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Prosecutor: HUD agent ‘acted reasonably and appropriately’ in fatal Zion shooting

Five people — including three newborn babies — were stabbed at an overnight day care center inside a New York City home early Friday, and a woman who had slashed her wrist and was found in the basement was taken into custody, police said. The victims were listed in critical but stable condition.

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Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim announced Monday that a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agent “acted reasonably and appropriately” when she fatally shot a 19-year-old man who allegedly pointed a replica handgun at her earlier this year in north suburban Zion.

On March 29, HUD Special Agent Andrea Warne was surveilling a home in the 3000 block of Ezekiel Avenue as part of a search for a woman wanted on a warrant for repeatedly raping a child, according to a statement from Nerheim’s office.

At 6 p.m., Warne was sitting alone in an unmarked, government-owned 2016 Chrysler 200 when Dishon McBride walked up wearing a bandana over his face and knocked on the driver’s side window with the barrel of what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun, prosecutors said. McBride then pointed the weapon at Warne’s head and face before saying something that was inaudible to her.

When Warne noticed a second suspect standing on the driver’s side of her car, she “took steps to defend herself,” prosecutors said. After drawing her department-issued Sig Sauer P229, Warne fired a single shot through the driver’s side window that struck McBride in the base of his neck, an autopsy later revealed.

McBride then fell to the ground and the second suspect ran off as Warne flashed her headlights and honked the car’s horn, prosecutors said.

“Shots fired,” Warne said over her radio before getting out of the car to find McBride on the ground with his left hand on his chest, prosecutors said.

“Police, don’t move,” she added while holding her service weapon about a foot from McBride’s body, prosecutors said. She was wearing body armor that identified her as a federal agent.

After backing up “to create some distance for the sake of safety,” assisting agents showed up and emergency crews were called to the scene, prosecutors said. Warne’s gun, duty belt and clothing were then taken as evidence and she was brought to a hospital.

After arriving at the scene, a Zion police officer kicked McBride’s weapon under Warne’s car “since it was too close” to his body, prosecutors said. It was later found to be a replica semiautomatic handgun.

Three other special agents corroborated portions of Warne’s account of the incident, but none of them reported seeing her fire the fatal shot, prosecutors said. In addition, the agents’ radio communications weren’t recorded, none of their vehicles had video recording equipment and none of the agents were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting.

A home video recording showed three suspects running south from Warne’s car after the shooting and into an alleyway, prosecutors said. A canine unit with the Lake County sheriff’s office tried to track the suspects, but the dog was “unable to obtain a scent” after several bystanders and other dogs walked through the area.

“Based upon the facts gathered in this investigation and a review of the applicable Illinois Statutes, Special Agent Warne acted reasonably and appropriately,” Nerheim said in a statement.

In his report, Nerheim noted that McBride “was formulating his plan to commit an armed robbery against a woman sitting by herself in an automobile,” although he was unaware she was a federal agent tracking a fugitive.

“In accordance with the new policy of my office with respect to officer involved shootings involving death, I am making the case file open and available to the public,” Nerheim added. “Transparency is essential to promoting public trust.”