Hero Down: McHenry County Deputy Jacob Keltner Murdered By Gunman
Rockford, IL – McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner was murdered in the line of duty on Thursday while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on an armed parolee at a hotel.
The fatal altercation began at approximately 9:15 a.m., when the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force went to an Extended Stay America on North Bell School Road to apprehend 39-year-old Floyd Brown, ABC News reported.
Deputy Keltner was working with the task force at the time of the incident, the department said in a tweet.
Brown was wanted for multiple warrants in several jurisdictions for offenses including failure to appear, two burglaries, and violating parole, WLS reported.
The wanted fugitive was inside hotel room number 305 with his 25-year-old girlfriend when the team converged on his room, according to the Chicago Tribune.
When they knocked on the door, Brown grabbed a high-powered rifle, and warned his girlfriend not to let the officers inside.
“Don’t do it!” he screamed, according to court documents.
The woman stayed near the door, but didn’t open it.
A moment later, the officers opened the door with a key, but the interior lock only allowed the door to open a crack, police said.
The officers saw the woman through the gap, and she told them she wanted out.
According to court documents, Brown yelled out again and opened fire, striking the woman and sending bullets through the walls and door in the direction of the task force team.
While they scrambled for cover, Brown leapt out the window of his room, and fell three stories to the ground below.
That’s where he encountered Deputy Keltner, who was positioned outside in the event Brown tried to escape.
Brown shot Deputy Keltner in the head, then took off in a light blue Grand Marquis.
He was spotted by law enforcement later on Interstate 55, ABC News reported.
A chase ensued, and Brown reached speeds of over 100 mph as he tried to flee police.
He also fired at officers during the chase, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Brown’s vehicle spun out in the snow near mile marker 133 on I-55, between Bloomington and Springfield, after an Illinois State Police (ISP) trooper rammed his car.
Brown ended up down a ditch on the side of the road, and barricaded himself inside his car for the next six hours.
He ultimately surrendered, and was taken into custody.
Deputy Keltner, 35, was transported to Javon Bea Hospital Riverside, where he succumbed to his gunshot wounds at approximately 3:30 p.m., WLS reported.
Brown’s girlfriend, who is not facing any charges, was treated for her gunshot wounds at a local hospital, and has been released, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Brown’s criminal history dates back to 1997, when he was convicted of aggravated assault, domestic battery, and obstructing a peace officer, WBBM reported.
He racked up two more domestic battery offenses and served a short prison stint before he was arrested for aggravated battery of a peace officer in 2000.
The following year, he was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, and later served three weeks in prison for a 2004 domestic battery offense.
In recent years, he has been charged with misdemeanor aggravated battery, vehicular invasion, unlawful restraint, domestic battery, endangering the life of a child, and disorderly conduct, among others.
Brown has been the subject of at least four protection orders in the past, WLS reported.
At one point, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for a series of 2011 burglaries, but he was released early in January of 2018 due to good behavior, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Brown now faces federal charges - as well as a first-degree murder count out of Winnebago County - in connection with Deputy Keltner's murder.
He faces a possible death penalty if convicted, according to prosecutors.
Deputy Keltner, a 13-year veteran of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), was a decorated officer who came from a family of law enforcement officers.
His father is a retired DuPage law enforcement officer who remains affiliated with the U.S. Marshals, and his brother is a DuPage County officer, police said.
“Jake was a fine young man," McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim told the Chicago Tribune. "We’re truly going to miss him. He was part of group of officers who chased the worst of the worst.”
He had been assigned to the fugitive task force for the past five years.
“He's a dedicated guy. He's a dedicated family man, and he's just truly going to be missed," Sheriff Prim told WLS.
“For those of us in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, this is bitter news,” the MCSO said in a Facebook post. “Deputy Keltner was an integral part of our office, someone who had risen quickly to greater responsibilities after he was first sworn in in 2006. He was loved and respected by all his colleagues, and he will be sorely missed.”
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said that Deputy Keltner loved being a law enforcement officer.
“This is truly a dark day for McHenry County and for law enforcement everywhere,” Franks told the Chicago Tribune. “Deputy Keltner is a hero who died doing what he loved.”
Deputy Keltner leaves behind his wife and their two young children.
"The people of Illinois join the family of the fallen officer in mourning his loss, and with our deepest gratitude for his courageous service,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a tweet, according to WLS.
Law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and members of the community turned out in droves to honor the slain deputy as his body was transported from the hospital to the coroner’s office on Thursday, WLS reported.
The procession stretched on for two miles.
“[We] have every confidence that the people of McHenry County will come together as a community to mourn this fine young man and support his family and colleagues through this difficult time,” the HCSO’s Facebook post read.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Deputy Jacob Keltner, your life mattered.