Andrew Lazzaretto still has a voice recording from his son — slain Glendale Police Officer Charles “Chuck” Lazzaretto — that was left 15 years ago on an answering machine.
He originally saved the recording to listen to his son’s voice, but he hasn’t played it in years. Still, the recording, along with his son’s uniforms and U.S. Marine Reserve memorabilia, are just some of the items he holds onto to keep Chuck Lazzaretto’s memory alive.
“I think it’s impossible to get closure or completely move on,” Andrew Lazzaretto said.
This month, he biked alongside three Glendale police officers from Ground Zero in New York City to the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington D.C. in memory of fallen officers, including his son, who was gunned down 15 years ago while investigating a case in Chatsworth.
“We ride for those who died,” the Burbank resident said. “Their lives will not be forgotten. Behind every service-related death there is a family.”
This was Andrew Lazzaretto’s second trip to the memorial, but first 300-mile bike ride to the site, where he his wife, Nan, and the officers — including Sue Shine — placed a Glendale police patch over his son’s inscribed name.
Shine said she participates in the ride not only in honor of Charles Lazzaretto, but also for his family.
“Their suffering never ends,” she said.
On May 27, 1997, Charles Lazzaretto, and his partner, Art Frank, went to a warehouse in Chatsworth in search of 28-year-old Israel Gonzalez, who they were trying to question about beating and attempting to kill his girlfriend.
At the warehouse, they spoke with an employee who allegedly lied about Gonzalez’s whereabouts. When the officers walked through the building, they discovered Gonzalez, who shot Charles Lazzaretto several times. As he lay on the ground, two other Los Angeles police officers were shot by Gonzalez as they tried to reach their comrade.
After the hours-long standoff, Gonzalez shot and killed himself — a move that spared the Lazzarettos from enduring a murder trial.
“I think we were spared the additional grief,” Andrew Lazzaretto said.
Chuck Lazzaretto was survived by his wife, Annamaria, and two sons, Andrew and Matthew, who live in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Charles Lazzaretto’s love for life and helping people in need, he said, has been forever ingrained in the lives of friends and family, Andrew Lazzaretto said.
“You never forget.”