Local Heroes

Lorenzo Macias receives a citizens commendation award from Sam Olson, acting chief of the Big Lake Police Department. At left is Emily Lanager-Chesley. 


Two citizens with connections to Big Lake have been named local heroes by the Big Lake Police Department. 

Lorenzo Macias, manager of El Loro Restaurant in Big Lake, and El Loro employee Emily Lanager-Chesley were presented with Citizen Commendation awards by Sam Olson, acting chief of the Big Lake Police Department at the Wednesday, April 27 meeting of the Big Lake City Council.

The rare award is presented to Big Lake citizens who perform acts of heroism in the community.

In March, an Amber Alert was issued across Minnesota. When the Amber Alert was issued Thursday, March 17 asking Minnesotans to look out for a two-year-old abducted in the Glenwood area, it was the staff at El Loro Restaurant in Big Lake that recognized the boy with a restaurant employee who was a customer in the dining establishment.

Emily Lanager-Chesley recognized the boy from a Facebook post regarding the Amber Alert and called 911.

El Loro manager Lorenzo Macias approached the man, later identified as Benigo Alvarez-Gutierrez. However, Alvarez-Gutierrez left the restaurant with the boy before police arrived.

It was through restaurant staff that Big Lake police officers learned that Alvarez-Gutierrez resides in Big Lake.

It’s that tip from restaurant staff that the Big Lake Police Department used to played the major role in apprehending Alvarez-Gutierrez.

Alvarez-Gutierrez left the restaurant with the boy before police arrived.

Court records show that Alvarez-Gutierrez first went to Paynesville where the boy was left in a garage. The boy was later found unharmed.

Alvarez-Gutierrez then returned to Big Lake and a residence on Polk Street.

Between the time Alvarez-Gutierrez left the restaurant and returned from Paynesville, Big Lake officers were keeping a close eye on the Polk Street residence.

At about 11 p.m. on March 17, officers went arrested and detained Benigo Alvarez-Gutierrez after a brief struggle outside the residence, Sam Olson confirmed.

Big Lake officers handed Alvarez-Gutierrez  off to the Minnesota State Patrol. Lorenzo Macias was at the residence and served as an interpreter so Big Lake Police and State Patrol could communicate with the suspect, Acting Police Chief Sam Olson said.

Alvarez-Gutierrez was eventually transported by the State Patrol to Wilmar where he was booked into the Kandiyohi County Jail. 

A day later, on Friday, March 18, Alvarez-Gutierrez was charged in Pope County District Court with one count of kidnapping and one count of depriving parental rights, court records show. Both are felony charges.

“With Emily being so observant and calling right away, and the help of Lorenzo at the scene, the child was returned back to his family,” Olson said.

“We appreciate everything you guys did,” Olson said.

Added Big Lake Mayor Paul Knier, “It is awesome to have heroes in our community.


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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