'Dark day for McHenry County': How state police caught man accused of fatally shooting deputy
A McHenry County sheriff's deputy died after being shot Thursday morning while working with federal agents at a Rockford hotel, and the suspect was taken into custody after a hourslong standoff with state police along Interstate 55 northeast of Springfield.
Deputy Jacob Keltner, 35, a 13-year police veteran who comes from a law enforcement family, died shortly after 3:30 p.m. at Javon Bea Hospital in Rockford, said David Devane, chief administrative officer for the McHenry County sheriff's office.
Keltner was assigned to a U.S. Marshals Task Force trying to arrest Floyd E. Brown, 39, of Springfield on outstanding warrants at the Extended Stay America on Bell School Road, Rockford police said. Keltner was sworn as a special deputy U.S. Marshal, police said.
Brown was taken into custody shortly after 5 p.m., state police said.
McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said Keltner was “a fine young man” who leaves behind a wife and two young children. He was an integral part of the sheriff's office and had risen quickly to greater responsibilities since being sworn in, in 2006, Prim said.
“He was loved and respected by all his colleagues, and he will be sorely missed,” Prim said.
Brown had burglary warrants from McLean and Champaign counties, a failure to appear warrant from Sangamon County and a parole violation issued by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea said.
Officers responded about 9:15 a.m. to the hotel for a call to assist marshals after a report of shots fired. Keltner was shot by Brown in the hotel's parking lot, O'Shea said.
A 25-year-old woman from Springfield, who was an acquaintance of Brown, was shot in the hotel room. She was treated and released from a hospital, police said Thursday afternoon.
Police said no rounds were fired by any law enforcement, so the woman likely was shot by Brown, who apparently was using a rifle.
They said it seems Brown, who was staying in a third-floor room, jumped out a window while fleeing police.
Brown, who was driving a Mercury Grand Marquis, was spotted about 10:45 a.m. by state troopers - who also responded to the shooting in Rockford - along Interstate 39 at mile marker 8, just north of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois State Police officials said.
A 30-minute chase ensued during which Brown displayed a rifle and reached speeds “well in excess” of 100 mph in inclement weather, state police said.
The chase ended when troopers crashed into Brown's vehicle on I-55 near mile marker 133 in Logan County, around Lincoln northeast of Springfield, “in an attempt to terminate the pursuit for the safety of the public,” state police said.
Brown's vehicle came to rest in a ditch; Brown exited and re-entered the vehicle, and barricaded himself inside for about six hours, state police said.
The state police SWAT team and crisis negotiation officers were called to the scene. Law enforcement negotiated with him until he surrendered and was taken into custody “peacefully” without gunfire, Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Sam Thomas said.
During the arrest, Brown suffered injuries that are not life-threatening and for which he's being treated, officials said. Thomas said he could not confirm reports that flash bangs were used.
O'Shea declined to say which weapons Brown had when he was apprehended, citing the ongoing investigation.
Brown is in custody of state police and eventually will be turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state police said.
Law enforcement representatives commended the cooperation among agencies resulting in Brown's arrest.
The Winnebago state's attorney authorized first-degree murder charges, which carry a penalty of mandatory life in prison, officials said. The U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois had authorized attempted murder charges that will be upgraded to murder charges, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Schneider, the Rockford branch chief.
Federal charges can be issued when a federal law enforcement officer, or someone assisting federal law enforcement, is killed, Schneider said. The death penalty is a possibility, she said.
Prim said Keltner's brother is an officer for the DuPage County sheriff's office; his father retired from that office and is “still affiliated” with the U.S. Marshals, Prim said.
Keltner volunteered for the assignment with the U.S. Marshals to “chase the worst of the worst,” Prim said. “Sometimes when people are willing to take on these responsibilities, this is an unfortunate end.”
“This is a very dark day for McHenry County and we will keep the officer and his family in our prayers,” McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said. “All law enforcement, for that matter.”
Prim said his office received “overwhelming support” from law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. He commended Rockford police, the Winnebago County sheriff's office and state police.
“I have every confidence that the people of McHenry County will come together as a community to mourn this fine young man and support his family and colleagues through this difficult time,” Prim said.
Illinois Department of Corrections records show Brown was paroled in January 2018 after serving part of a 13-year prison sentence on residential burglary charges out of downstate Macon and McLean counties.
He previously served time in 2005 on unlawful restraint and violating an order of protection charges, and in 2001 on a charge unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, all out of Sangamon County.