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$200K bail for man accused of firing gun on tracks where 2 officers killed

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

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

Bail was set at $200,000 for a 24-year-old man accused of firing a gun Monday night near railroad tracks on the Far South Side — an incident which preceded the tragic deaths of two officers investigating the shots who were struck by a train.

Edward R. Brown, of Rosemoor, is accused of firing the shots with a gun he found in an alley near the tracks used by the South Shore Line, Cook County prosecutors said at his bail hearing Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

He faces felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Bail was set by Judge Stephanie K. Miller. Brown will have to post $20,000 to be released from custody.

Family members at the hearing declined to comment, but Brown’s attorney, Frank Kostouros, said coming up with the bond amount would be very difficult for the family.

Kostouros had said the family could afford a bail set at $10,000, but had asked for a personal recognizance bond.

Edward Brown

Calumet District Chicago police officers Conrad Gary, 31, and Eduardo Marmolejo, 36, were responding to a ShotSpotter alert of several gunshots about 6 p.m. Monday near the 600 block of East 101st Street, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The officers radioed a dispatcher that they saw someone running on the tracks and followed.

Police believe video from one of the officer’s body camera shows they were walking south and watching an approaching Metra train that was headed north when they were struck from behind by the South Shore Line train, killing both men.

Brown found the gun in an alley near his home after coming home from work as a prep cook at a restaurant at Boeing International Headquarters downtown.

Brown had stopped in an alley to urinate when he allegedly saw a black fanny pack that had been dropped by a resident earlier when he took out the trash. The pack contained the gun, a FOID card, magazines and ammunition, prosecutors said.

After taking the gun home, Brown went to the train tracks and fired the gun once into the air, prosecutors said. The shot was detected by ShotSpotter gunshot detection device used by police and alerted to Calumet District officers, who responded.

Kostouros admitted Brown should not have fired the gun, but said Brown had gone to the tracks to be away from people in an area he felt it would safer to fire the gun.

“He wasn’t shooting at anyone,” Kostouros said.

About a minute later, Brown fired a second shot, prosecutors said. This time, the gunfire was directed into the area of Wendell Smith Elementary School, which was not in session at the time, and Gately Park, which was closed Dec. 14.

Officers Gary and Marmolejo arrived in a marked police SUV, but without their lights on, prosecutors said. When Brown saw the SUV as he came back down an embankment near the tracks, he ran south and east across the tracks in front of a Metra train that had pulled into a station.

Gary and Marmolejo followed, heading south on the westernmost tracks, prosecutors said. The South Shore train that struck them dimmed its lights when approaching the Metra train and was traveling at least 60 mph as it came behind the officers, who had decided to continue following Brown as the Metra train pulled from the station.

Brown was taken into custody that night by South Chicago District (4th) officers when he was seen walking down a set of stairs near the tracks.

Brown told the officers he was carrying a gun and that he had fired it near the tracks when they asked, officials said. A .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found on him, along with the magazines and ammunition.

Brown has never been issued a FOID card or concealed carry license, prosecutors said.

Charges against Brown were announced Wednesday evening.

Kostouros said the officers were “undeniably heroic” in their actions responding to gunfire, but said that what happened was a chain of events no one could have predicted, saying, “It was the worst of luck.”

After the hearing, Kostouros said Brown was “devastated” to learn that the officers had been killed. He described Brown as a “hardworking” man who made a poor decision, but who had never been arrested before.

Judge Miller said that, although Brown had not fired the gun at anyone, each bullet “still has to come down.”

Miller called Brown’s actions “inherently dangerous” in setting bail.

Brown’s next court date was scheduled for Dec. 27.

The wake for Officer Gary was expected to take place Thursday afternoon followed by a funeral service on Friday. The wake for Officer Marmolejo was set for Friday with the funeral planned for Saturday.

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