The man charged with fatally shooting a deputy trying to serve a warrant at a Rockford hotel appeared in court Monday for the first time since the shooting and subsequent hours-long standoff last week.
Floyd E. Brown, 39, appeared in federal court in Rockford four days after the incident the spanned over 100 miles in Illinois. He was charged with killing a special deputy United States Marshal, a charge that carries a potential penalty of death or life in prison if convicted.
Brown, who had bandages on both of his arms and appeared in a wheelchair, told a judge he understood the charges against him. He was ordered detained until a preliminary hearing set for March 20.
Brown's sister said at the courthouse Monday she hadn't spoken to her brother in months, but had no idea he was in trouble.
"It's scary," she said of seeing him in court. "It's a nightmare."
The charges stem from the shooting Thursday, in which authorities said officers of the U.S. Marshal's Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force attempted to execute state warrants for Brown at around 9:15 a.m. at the Extended Stay hotel on North Bell School Road in Rockford.
A complaint detailing the murder charge against him said that officers Brown and Brown's girlfriend were staying in room 305 of the hotel and knocked on the door. Meanwhile, other officers "were positioned around the exterior of the hotel," including Deputy Jacob Keltner.
When police knocked, they heard a male voice inside yell "Don't do it," the complaint states. When the officers used a key to open the door, they discovered the interior swing lock was still engaged, according to the complaint.
Brown's girlfriend, who came to the door but did not open it, said she wanted to get out, the complaint reads. Meanwhile, a male voice could be heard yelling from inside the room before gunfire came through the hotel door and walls.
Brown fled out of the hotel room via a third-story window, the complaint states, shooting Keltner in the head as he did. Keltner was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead hours after the shooting.
Brown fled the scene in a vehicle before police located him on an expressway in the Bloomington-Normal area, authorities said. Once officers began pursuing him, he shot at them "multiple times using a long gun," according to the complaint. Illinois State Police said Brown's vehicle was struck by a police cruiser and crashed in a rural area along Interstate 55 in Logan County. A standoff with state police and SWAT officers ensued for several hours, officials said, until Brown was apprehended and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries related to the crash.
Brown, a resident of Springfield, was been identified as a burglary suspect in Bloomington, Illinois, three months prior to the shooting. Police said Brown fled from officers investigating the burglaries, driving without headlights at a high rate of speed before crashing in a multi-car accident. He fled the accident scene on foot, police said, and it was not clear if he was ever taken into custody.
According to Sangamon County court records, Brown's history with law enforcement in the area dates back to 1996.
He previously was found guilty in that county of domestic battery, resisting peace officers, criminal trespass to a residence, aggravated battery of a peace officer or fireman, reckless discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, reckless driving, endangering the life of a child and more.
Brown was wanted on warrants out of Sangamon County, McLean County and Champaign County, authorities said, plus a parole violation warrant from the Illinois Department of Corrections. It was not clear which of the warrants the officers, including Keltner, were attempting to execute in Thursday's incident.
Keltner's body was escorted in a procession Thursday night to the Winnebago County Coroner's office, with a line of police cars that could be seen for miles. The nearly 13-year veteran of the McHenry County Sheriff's office was married and had two children, officials said.
"Deputy Keltner was an integral part of our office, someone who had risen quickly to greater responsibilities after he was first sworn in in 2006," McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said Thursday. "He was loved and respected by all his colleagues, and he will be sorely missed."
“First and foremost, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and the family of Deputy Keltner,” ISP Acting Director Brendan F. Kelly said. “The men and women of the Illinois State Police, including responding Troopers from District 16, District 1, District 15, District 6, District 8, and District 9, all responded with seamless professionalism alongside the law enforcement of this state. ISP’s SWAT team in particular showed incredible tactical restraint, bravery and boldness today. This dark day has come to an end, and this defendant can now be brought to justice."