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Man charged with firing gun on tracks where two CPD officers were killed

Authorities on the scene where two officers were fatally struck by a commuter train. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

A 24-year-old man was charged Wednesday with firing a gun near railroad tracks on the Far South Side where two Chicago police officers investigating the shots were struck and killed by a commuter train.

Edward R. Brown, of the 10100 block of South St. Lawrence, is charged with reckless discharge of a weapon and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Fifth District officers Eduardo Marmolejo and Conrad Gary were killed Monday night when a South Shore commuter train going south struck them from the rear as they walked south on the tracks near 101st and Dauphin, looking for whomever was firing a gun.

Officers from the 4th District stopped Brown when they saw him walk downstairs leading from the tracks to a sidewalk near 103rd Street. They made eye contact and Brown walked away, according to a police report.

The officers stopped Brown and asked if he was carrying anything illegal. He responded, “Yes, I have a gun,” according to the report. The officers said they found a .38-caliber Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun on him.

Edward R. Brown
Edward R. Brown

The officers said Brown admitted shooting the gun on the tracks. He said he found it in an alley near 101st and Vernon and was testing it, according to the police report.

The 4th District officers didn’t know Marmolejo and Gary were dead until they took Brown to the 5th District station to process him, officials said.

Brown doesn’t have a criminal record.

Marmolejo and Gary had been responding to a call from a dispatcher who said a ShotSpotter gunshot detection device alerted to several gunshots near the 600 block of East 101st Place.

When they arrived at the scene, they radioed that they saw someone running on the east side of the tracks.

Police later recovered a body camera that one of the officers was wearing. The video showed the officers were watching a Metra train moving north toward them with its lights approaching. The officers were walking south about 15 yards apart when the South Shore train struck them from the rear. They couldn’t hear the South Shore train because of the noise from the Metra train, police say.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the body camera didn’t appear to have any audio of a horn from the South Shore train that struck the officers.

Also Wednesday, the police chief of the South Shore Line delivered data from the South Shore train’s event recorder to the Chicago Police Department, a source said.

Event recorders, which are used in trains and airplanes, are commonly referred to as “black boxes.” Accident investigators use them to determine speed, braking information and other data. It’s unclear what the black box showed in Monday’s fatal accident.

Such accidents are exceedingly rare. A Chicago Sun-Times analysis of fatal train accidents shows 25 officers from across the country have been struck and killed by trains over the past 30 years, including Chicago Police Officer Benjamin Perez in 2002.