The man who allegedly said he was a Chicago police officer before shooting a suspected shoplifter at a Northwest Side Walgreens last week had led an employee there to believe he worked in law enforcement and involved himself in security matters at the store many times before, Cook County prosecutors said Friday.
Louis Hicks Jr., 33, has never worked as a police officer in Chicago or anywhere else. And prosecutors said Hicks never should have had a weapon since he was convicted of felony burglary in 2003.
The convicted felon, who was recently suspended from his position as a security guard, told a shift leader to call him when there were problems and often tried to resolve security situations at the Walgreens, at 4817 W. Fullerton Ave., prosecutors said.
The latest interaction Hicks’ allegedly had with a customer turned deadly.
About 11:30 p.m. June 12, after detaining Sircie Varnado, Hicks kneeled over her with a gun drawn and allegedly said, “You’re a b****.” He then allegedly fired a single shot into Varnado’s face, then picked up the empty bullet casing and left the store, prosecutors said.
Varnado, 46, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
A shift leader at the store first met Hicks about a year ago when he handcuffed “a habitual shoplifter” and held the person until police arrived, prosecutors said. A few days later, Hicks allegedly visited the store and told the shift leader he lived next door and should be called to help with any security or shoplifting problems.
Over the course of the year, the shift leader would call Hicks when “suspicious people” came into the store, prosecutors said. The shift leader saw Hicks in the store on multiple occasions with a gun and badge.
Hicks had been employed as a security guard for SEB Security but had not been assigned to work at the Walgreens, according to prosecutors.
Hicks was suspended from his security position after he chased a suspected shoplifter into a parking lot on Jan. 6, tackled and handcuffed the person in violation of company policy, prosecutors said.
In May, Hicks allegedly showed a gun and badge to a woman waiting in a car that was illegally parked in the front of the same Walgreens while her husband was inside. Hicks demanded that the woman move the car, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Hicks was summoned to the store on the day of Varnado’s killing by the shift leader when a “suspicious man” was spotted in the store.
When Varnado entered the store, the shift leader told Hicks he suspected Varnado might be working with the earlier suspicious shopper who had since left the store, prosecutors said.
The shift leader approached Varnado while she was looking at a dress to ask if she needed help then gestured for Hicks to stop her, prosecutors said.
Hicks held Varnado and wouldn’t let her leave, prosecutors said. He then allegedly put her in a choke hold as other shoppers moved closer and announced he was a police officer before trying to handcuff Varnado and slamming her to the floor and then shooting her.
Video surveillance at the store did not capture the shooting because a camera was blocked by a display. But multiple witnesses identified Hicks as the shooter, and investigators have recovered text message between the shift leader and Hicks, as well as surveillance from prior incidents at the store, prosecutors said.
An assistant public defender said Hicks worked security for three years, volunteers at his church and cares for older parents who suffer various illnesses.
Varnado’s family issued a statement Friday night, saying all they want is justice for their daughter, sister, mother, aunt and cousin. “On June 12th our world was forever changed when a coward took it upon his self to take the life of our family member. ... Now we, as a family are left to struggle with picking up the pieces of our lives.”
Hicks was ordered held without bond for first-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and impersonating a police officer charges. He is due back in court on July 9.