DECATUR — Records show that Floyd E. Brown, the man accused of shooting and killing a McHenry County sheriff's deputy last week, once had bail denied in Decatur because of comments seen as a threat to kill police officers.
Brown, 39, of Springfield, made the comments in 2011 while being held in the Macon County Jail, having been arrested in a series of Decatur house burglaries. Prisoner phone calls are taped and Brown had made calls implying a desire to kill police, prosecutors said: “The (expletive) better hope and pray I don’t get out,” Brown said in one conversation.
Brown is charged with murder in the death of Jacob Keltner, 35. Investigators say Keltner was shot March 7 while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a hotel in Rockford, and Brown fled in a vehicle that crashed along an interstate about 170 miles away.
Brown’s half-sister is a Decatur woman who said her brother is “not a monster,” and she promised to “be with him every step of the way. Christina Brown made the comments after a court hearing in Rockford on Monday. She also extended her sympathies to Keltner’s family.
Floyd Brown grew up in the Springfield area and dropped out of high school but later got his diploma, his sister said. She said she sometimes saw him taking care of his six children, whose ages are about 5 to 21 and who lived with their mother in Springfield.
Christina Brown had not seen her brother since the fall, she said. She said she was alarmed to hear the charges against him, and scared to think he faces a potential death penalty. "I'm shocked. I never thought I'd see a day like this," she said.
At the time of the shooting last week, Floyd Brown was on parole. Previously, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for a series of burglaries in McLean and Macon counties in 2011. He also served time in prison on convictions for unlawful restraint, violating an order of protection and illegally possessing a firearm, Illinois Department of Corrections records show.
The weapons conviction stemmed from an incident in which Brown fatally shot a man in Springfield about two decades ago. He was sentenced in 2001 to eight years in prison after reaching a plea deal.
It was while he was in the Macon County Jail after being arrested on the burglary charges that prosecutors said Brown made the threatening comments. During the April 2011 court hearing, Decatur Police officer Troy Kretsinger told Judge Timothy Steadman he had listened to hours of Brown’s recorded conversations from March 29 to April 20 and was worried that Brown intended to attack police if released.
Prosecutors in Decatur filed the motion to deny bail after police became concerned that Brown might succeed in raising the $25,000 he needed to post bail, based on calls to his mother and other sympathizers.
Ruling to deny the bond, Steadman had said, “I think the court would be foolish not to interpret (his statements) as threats to (have) shootouts with officers.”
Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott, speaking Tuesday, recalled the case well but said he couldn’t comment on Brown’s current situation because of legal rules. But he said he did remember that Decatur bond hearing after reading about Keltner’s death.
“Yes, I do remember Brown very well,” Scott said.
By December 23, 2018, fresh warrants for Brown’s arrest had been issued in McLean County by police probing a string of burglaries Brown had allegedly committed while on parole after serving his sentence for the Macon County burglaries. Brown led Bloomington Police on a high-speed chase and got away on foot after causing a multi-vehicle accident, police said.
Keltner was part of the U.S. marshal team detailed to arrest Brown on those warrants, among others.
Details presented Monday at the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois in Rockford said Brown had opened fire at police from his third floor Rockford hotel room, wounding his 25-year-old girlfriend, before fleeing through a window. He encountered Keltner, positioned outside to block his escape, and is accused of shooting the officer in the head before jumping in his car and fleeing.
The subsequent police chase down Interstate 55 reached speeds of 150 mph before State Police rammed Brown’s car and it drove off the highway into a ravine near Lincoln. A six-hour standoff then followed before police used stun grenades to disorient Brown and arrest him.
Brown was charged in both state and federal court in last week's incident. The federal charges carry a potential penalty of life in prison or a death sentence.
A funeral is scheduled today (Wednesday) for Keltner, who was married with two young children. The McHenry County sheriff’s office said Keltner had been with the department for 13 years.
On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered at that U.S. and Illinois flags on state buildings be lowered to half-staff through sunset on Wednesday, according to the state Department of Central Management Services.
The Chicago Tribune and Associated Press contributed to this story.