CHICAGO — A McHenry County sheriff’s officer has died after being shot while serving an arrest warrant early Thursday, and the suspected gunman is custody after an hourslong standoff with police off Interstate 55 south of Bloomington, according to authorities.
Deputy Jacob Keltner died around 3:30 p.m., hours after he was shot at a Rockford motel, according to the McHenry County sheriff’s office. He had been a deputy with the office for 13 years.
Keltner leaves behind a wife and two young children, said McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim. He was hired in 2006.
“He was part of a group of officers who chased the worst of the worst,” Prim said at an evening news conference.
The suspected gunman, Floyd E. Brown, fled downstate but crashed his silver Mercury Grand Marquis near Lincoln around 11:30 a.m. after leading Illinois State Police on a chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph, authorities said. He had refused to leave the car, and reports from troopers at the scene said he pointed a rifle out of the vehicle.
A SWAT team and negotiators were called in, and all lanes of I-55 were shut down for several hours. Brown was unharmed when he was taken into custody, officials said.
The Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office filed first-degree murder charges against Brown, according to State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross. A warrant orders him held without bond. Federal prosecutors also filed an attempted murder charge against Brown that they plan to upgrade to murder.
“Obviously, he’s indicated he’s willing to use force,” Kurt Whisenand, a chief investigator with the Rockford Police Department, said at a news conference hours before Brown was taken into custody. “We would prefer it ends peacefully, but that’s not up to law enforcement.”
Keltner was with a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force that was serving an arrest warrant on Brown, 39, at the Extended Stay America in Rockford, authorities said. As some members of the task force approached Brown’s room around 9:15 a.m., shots were fired inside, police said.
Brown apparently jumped out of the third-floor window and shot Keltner in the parking lot, then jumped in his car and sped off, authorities said. The deputy suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
A woman in Brown’s room also was wounded, apparently by a round fired by Brown. Her injury was not considered life-threatening, authorities said. Guests in the motel were evacuated, but no other injuries were reported.
During the high-speed pursuit down I-55, Brown drove off the road and barricaded himself in his car as police negotiated a surrender, police said. An alert to police agencies said he might have been armed with an AK-47.
An Illinois State Police mobile command unit and at least one SWAT vehicle were set up on I-55 near Exit 133, surrounded by dozens of cars parked in the northbound and southbound lanes of the interstate.
Some vehicles sat in the grassy median between the two sides of the highway. Interstate 55 cuts through flat fields in the mostly rural area of central Illinois. Visibility was low at times as light snow fell during the afternoon.
Brown had been wanted on warrants out of Champaign, McLean and Sangamon counties. In one of the cases, he fled police investigating a burglary and crashed his car, injuring at least two people.
At the time, Brown was on parole after serving time in prison for a series of burglaries in McLean and Macon counties in 2011. He had been arrested then by a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force, according to authorities.
Brown was sentenced to 13 years in prison and, with credit for good behavior, was released in January 2018. He also served prison time in the 2000s for convictions on charges of unlawful restraint, violating an order of protection and illegally possessing a firearm, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Keltner was assigned to the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, which pools federal and local resources to arrest fugitives in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Some two dozen police departments contribute officers to the task force, including the McHenry County sheriff’s office. The Chicago Police Department also assigns officers to the group, which was established for fugitive apprehension in 2003.
“It is a very dark day for McHenry County,” said McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks.
(Chicago Tribune’s Madeline Buckley contributed.)
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