Guard fired 20 shots while lying on ground— killing grandma 4 blocks away, prosecutors say
Victor Brown fired at a man who had shot him, although that man was already at least a block away at the time, Cook County prosecutors said in charging Brown with murder Friday. One of the bullets killed Bobbye Johnson as she walked in the 200 block of East 35th Street around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
A security guard wildly fired more than 20 rounds on a busy street without regard for who else could be hurt after he was shot in the leg during a confrontation with another man earlier this week, Cook County prosecutors said in court Friday.
Victor Brown missed his target, but one of the bullets he fired Tuesday afternoon instead struck a 55-year-old grandmother in the chest as she walked to a bank four blocks away, prosecutors said.
Bobbye Johnson, whose family said she “loved God, loved church, loved her grandkids,” later died.
Brown, 34, faces a first-degree murder in her death.
Because Brown was still hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his thigh and did not attend the hearing, Judge Kelly McCarthy said state law did not allow her to hold him without bail.
Instead, the judge said he would have to post $1 million to be released.
McCarthy set another hearing for Brown on Monday for that bail to be reviewed — or revoked, if he’s released from the hospital by then.
An assistant public defender for Brown said his client appeared to be defending himself when he opened fire about 4 p.m. that day on a busy stretch of 35th Street not far from Chicago police headquarters.
Brown had been shot first by a man who was a “known nuisance” and had previously been banned from the store where Brown worked as a security guard, the defense attorney said.
Brown was working as a guard at a liquor store and attached Jamaican jerk chicken restaurant when he saw the man leave the restaurant, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.
Security video recorded Brown arguing with the man, who then put his fists in the air near his face as they drew closer together, Murphy said. The man then put his hands in his jacket and fired once through the pocket, striking Brown in the leg.
Brown fell to the ground as the man who shot him, known by his nickname “Renegade,” ran off, Murphy said. The man was already a block away when Brown drew and fired a “starter pistol that contained only blank” rounds, Murphy said.
Another security guard with a permit to carry a concealed weapon, pulled his own gun but chose not to fire, “because there were too many bystanders around” and the man who shot Brown was too far away, Murphy said.
Brown then took that guard’s gun and began shooting while lying on the ground, despite the man known as “Renegade” being blocks away by that time, Murphy said.
A nurse waiting at a nearby CTA bus shelter who saw the shooting unfold said she screamed at Brown to stop firing because the man he was targeting “was nowhere to be seen,” Murphy said.
Brown, additionally faces an unlawful use of a weapon charge because, as a convicted felon, he is not allowed to possess a gun, Murphy said.
Brown’s defense attorney argued that he was only in possession of a gun because the circumstances required him to use one.
Cook County court records show Brown has been arrested at least 10 times, including for illegal gun possession, battery, domestic battery and armed robbery.
Most of the cases were dropped, but he pleaded guilty to domestic battery in 2015 and armed robbery without a firearm in 2010. He was given 100 days in Cook County Jail on the first case, and six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the other.
The man known as “Renegade” was still not in custody as of Friday afternoon, according to police.
During a news conference at the time of the hearing, Police Supt. David Brown said detectives may release surveillance video of the shooting to identify him.
A source familiar with the video described Victor Brown’s actions on the footage as “mind-boggling” in their recklessness and expressed amazement that more people weren’t hurt.
The superintendent said it still wasn’t clear if Victor Brown was employed by a security company at the time of the shooting, but said it instead appeared that he had “a very loose relationship” with the store to provide security.
A person who answered the phone at the restaurant Friday said a manager or owner was not immediately available to answer questions.
Johnson was known for her gospel singing, some of which she had written herself and shared on YouTube, her family said.
“She was so sweet to everyone, even if you did anything wrong she would always have the best to say,” they said in a statement after her death.
Supt. Brown said he hoped the charges would bring a “small measure” of closure to her family.
“You’re in our prayers,” he added. “Mrs. Johnson should be here but for the reckless conduct of the person charged.”