A U.S. Marshals task force officer was fatally shot while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a Rockford hotel Thursday morning and the suspect was apprehended after he fled more than 100 miles south, authorities said.
The officer was identified as deputy sheriff Jacob Keltner, who served with the McHenry County Sheriff's office for almost 13 years. He died shortly after 3:30 p.m., according to Chief Administrative Officer Dave Devane of the McHenry County Sheriff's office. Keltner's accused killer, 39-year-old Floyd E. Brown, now faces first-degree murder charges.
Keltner was married and had two children, officials said.
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"For those of us in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, this is bitter news," McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said in a statement. "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. He was loved and respected by all his colleagues, and he will be sorely missed."
Illinois State Police said officers pursued Brown before his vehicle was struck by a police cruiser and crashed in a rural area along Interstate 55 in Logan County. He was apprehended after an hourslong standoff with state police and SWAT officers, authorities said.
The standoff shut down I-55 in both directions near Lincoln for hours. Route 60 was also temporarily shut down in the area and Amtrak's Lincoln Train 303, which travels between Chicago and St. Louis, was stopped south of Bloomington-Normal for the police activity.
The incident began at the Extended Stay hotel off North Bell School Road, where authorities initially said officers were investigating an "active shooter" situation.
Rockford police said members of the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Apprehension Task Force were attempting to serve an arrest warrant around 9:15 a.m. when they were fired on. Police said shots were fired inside the hotel and in the parking lot after authorities said they believed the suspect, armed with a rifle, fled the hotel out of a third-floor window. A McHenry County Sheriff's deputy working on the task force was hit by gunfire in the parking lot and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, according to police. The officer was pronounced dead hours later.
A woman described by police as "a female acquaintance of the suspect" was also shot "inside the hotel," police said. The gunshot was not believed to be from law enforcement and the wound did not appear to be life-threatening, according to authorities. She was treated and released.
Residents were advised to avoid the area near the hotel. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and numerous other departments also responded to the scene.
Police spokesman Andre Brass said that Brown has no known ties to Rockford but is from central Illinois.
Police said he was wanted on warrants out of several Illinois counties and was recently identified as a burglary suspect in December in Bloomington, Illinois. Bloomington police said Brown fled from police and eluded officers who were investigating burglaries in the area. A reward of up to $1,000 was being offered for information leading to his arrest at the time.
Extended Stay said it was "working with proper authorities to ensure the safety of our guests and employees."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer and his family," the hotel said in a statement.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he was "closely monitoring the active shooter incident in Rockford" and urged members of the community "to follow the instructions of local law enforcement."
"My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the officer shot, his family, first responders & residents affected by this situation," Pritzker wrote.
Sen. Dick Durbin also said he was tracking updates and thanked law enforcement "who are responding to the emergency."
After the standoff came to an end, Brown was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries related to the crash. He was last placed in ISP custody, but authorities said he will "eventually be turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
“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."