CHICAGO (AP) — A man who fired a gun that prompted two Chicago police officers to run onto train tracks where they were killed by a train told detectives he’d found the weapon and took it to a remote area to see if it worked, police said Thursday.
Detectives believe Edward Brown’s account and said he likely 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 scheduled to appear in court Thursday on charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
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.
“We believe he found the gun in an alley … and he took it to the tracks to test it out,” Guglielmi said, adding that Brown took the gun to “what he perceived to be a remote area.”
Police agreed that Brown should face charges related to having and discharging the gun, but not felony murder.
Suspects can be charged with felony murder if they commit a crime that leads to someone’s death. Such charges were filed against a teenager in Alabama this month after he allegedly fired a gun that prompted a girl to run into a street where she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Chicago investigators say 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, but 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. 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.
“They must have thought the sound they heard was the northbound train (and) they must have missed the sound of the train right behind them,” Guglielmi said.