Suspect who allegedly killed McHenry County Sheriff's deputy had threatened to shoot police before

Suspect who allegedly killed deputy had threatened to shoot police before

The man accused of killing a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy Thursday in Rockford had threatened to shoot police officers before, according to a local media report.

Springfield man, 39-year-old Floyd E. Brown, could face the death penalty if he is convicted on federal murder charges filed against him in connection with the death of McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner. He also is charged with first-degree murder in Winnebago County, where he could receive a sentence of mandatory life in prison if he were convicted.

A news report from a 2011 bond hearing in Macon County revealed that Brown previously had made remarks about shooting police.

Brown has a criminal history and was denied bail while awaiting a trial on burglary charges after he said in a taped telephone conversation that he would shoot it out with police rather than return to jail, the Herald & Review reported in 2011.

In handing down his ruling, Associate Judge Timothy Steadman said Brown, who previously had been involved with shooting a man, would pose a physical threat if released, the Herald & Review reported.

"I think the court would be foolish not to interpret [his statements] as threats to shootouts with officers," Steadman said in the Herald & Review report.

On Thursday, that threat became a reality.

Keltner, a member of the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, was one of a group of officers serving warrants on Brown at Room 305 of the Extended Stay America hotel in Rockford.

As Brown fled from the Rockford motel where he and his girlfriend were staying, he fired a rifle at Keltner, striking the officer in the head. Keltner was taken to a nearby hospital and died at 3:30 p.m. He was 35.

Upgraded charges

Federal prosecutors originally charged Brown with attempted murder after the deadly altercation with officers. After learning Keltner died, however, an amended complaint with upgraded charges was filed Friday afternoon.

Although state charges often are dismissed when federal prosecutors file charges related to the same crime, Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said that's not the case here.

"We are two separate sovereigns," she said. "They're not mandated to dismiss their charges, and the U.S. Attorney's Office doesn't have authority to direct me to dismiss my charges."

Brown's defense attorney Paul Gaziano, Rockford branch chief for the Federal Public Defender's Office, declined to comment Friday.

Warrants for Brown's arrest previously had been issued out of McLean, Champaign and Sangamon counties, as well as by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Rockford police said. He was wanted on charges including burglary, failure to appear in court and violation of parole.

His criminal history includes two prior felony convictions out of Macon County. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2013 for residential burglary. He also was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on a forgery charge in 2006.

Both matters would have barred him from owning firearms because he was a convicted felon.

Thursday's shooting

On Thursday, U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force officers located Brown and his girlfriend at a hotel at 747 N. Bell School Road, Rockford.

Police learned that Brown and the woman, whose identity has not been released, had been staying in Room 305. Officers saw Brown’s girlfriend in the hotel before they tried to execute the warrants, and hotel staff previously had confirmed that she was staying in that hotel room.

About 9:15 a.m., a task force officer knocked on the hotel room door and identified himself and fellow officers as police, according to a federal complaint. Other officers, including Keltner, had surrounded the outside of the hotel.

One task force officer reported hearing a male voice from inside the room yell, “Don’t do it,” according to the complaint. Police then used a key to open the door but noticed that the interior swing lock still was secured.

Brown's girlfriend came to the door and said she wanted to get out, the complaint stated. Police then heard the same male voice yelling from inside the room just before gunfire came through the hotel door and walls toward the task force officers. The woman was struck by a bullet and later treated and released from a nearby hospital. Police have said officers did not fire their weapons.

As Brown fled from a third-story window, he fired at Keltner, who was was positioned on the northeast side of the hotel.

The fugitive took off in a vehicle and led police on a chase to the Bloomington-Normal area, while continuing to shoot at officers using a rifle, according to the federal complaint.

The pursuit came to an end in Logan County after officers in pursuit struck Brown's vehicle on Interstate 55, police have said.

Brown then barricaded himself in his vehicle for about six hours before officers took him into custody. He was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. 

Brown will appear in court at 1 p.m. Monday in Room 5200 of the Stanley J. Roszkowski United States Courthouse in Rockford.

'It brings it all back'

The last time a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy died as the result of a shooting was in 2015.

Dwight Maness, 47, of McHenry, died suddenly Sept. 14, 2015, from complications related to a gunshot wound suffered almost 11 months earlier while on duty. The gunman, 56-year-old Scott Peters is serving a 135-year sentence at Menard Correctional Center.

For Maness' wife, Sue Maness, Thursday's shooting brought back a flood of painful memories, she said.

"I was totally devastated yesterday," she said. "It just brought my whole situation right back."

People who would like to help Keltner's family should allow his wife and children time to grieve, Maness said.

"It’s just a lot of whirlwind. It’s very overwhelming," she said. "I think the best thing is to give [Keltner's wife] her space. She’s got everything that she needs. Everything that she needs right now is going to be supplied by the sheriff’s office and the C.O.P.S. Organization. They handle the majority of everything. They’re so incredible. I would have never made it through anything without them."

The McHenry County Sheriff's Office has not organized any formal fundraising efforts as of Friday night. Updates about potential fundraising will be posted to the sheriff's department's Facebook page, @MchenryCountySheriff.

• Kristen Zambo is a Rockford Register Star reporter.

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