CHICAGO — Bond was set at $200,000 Thursday for a man accused of firing a gun before fleeing police, prompting two Chicago police officers to run onto train tracks where they were killed.
Edward Brown told detectives he found the weapon and took it to a remote area to see if it worked, police said Thursday. Detectives reportedly believe his account, and that he didn't know police were looking for him when the two officers were fatally struck by a commuter train Monday evening on the city's South Side, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The officers — Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo — likely didn't see or hear the train that hit them because they were focused on another train heading toward them from a different direction, police said.
Brown, a 24-year-old Chicago resident with no criminal record, is not charged with murder despite a demand from the police union that he be held responsible in the deaths. Instead he’s facing two weapons charges, reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Prosecutors said Brown left his job as a prep chef at the Landing Restaurant in the Boeing building in downtown Chicago and took a Red Line train to the 95th Street stop Monday. While walking home, he ducked into an alley to urinate next to a garbage can and noticed a fanny pack next to the can. He picked up the fanny pack and found a handgun and ammunition.
Prosecutors said Brown took the gun home and then decided to go to the railroad tracks to fire the gun. While Brown may have thought he was taking a precaution by going to an area on the city's Far South Side to fire the gun, investigators say he was still in an area where the sound of gunfire can be picked up by a ShotSpotter sensor. The sensors alert the police department when they pick up the sound of gunfire. Such an alert led officers to the area where Brown allegedly fired a gun.
“When the officers arrived at the scene, the defendant had just come down the embankment from the tracks. The defendant observed the officers' SUV and ran back up the embankment,” Asst. Cook County state’s attorney Gut Lisuzzo said.
Police said Marmolejo and Gary saw Brown, got out of their police vehicle and hurried up an embankment to the tracks in order to get a better look. Moments later, two trains passed each other on the tracks at the same spot. Bodycam video was recovered from one of the killed officers. Police said the footage shows that the officers were looking toward a northbound train when they were struck by a southbound train they likely never heard.
The trains stopped but Brown kept running, apparently unaware of what had just happened. He was caught by two other officers, handed over the gun, and admitted to firing on the tracks. Guglielmi said Brown has been cooperative from the moment he was confronted by other officers as he walked down the stairs at a train station Monday evening. Without hesitation, he admitted he had a gun in his sweater pocket, Guglielmi said.
“Had he just gone to the next garbage can over, this never would have happened,” defense attorney Frank Kostouros said.
Kostouros called Brown a, “good kid who made a bad mistake," saying that he feels terrible, but should not be legally responsible for the deaths of the officers.
“What happened to these officers was completely unforeseeable, the series of events that set this off … it’s crazy to even think about,” he said.
In a statement, the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police said:
“The Fraternal Order of Police believes that felony murder charges should be pursued … Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx has an obligation to the families of these officers, the police, and the community to vigorously pursue the highest possible charges anytime an officer dies as a result of the criminal actions of an offender."
Brown is being held at the Cook County jail until he posts bond. His next court date is scheduled for next week.