CHICAGO (CBS) — Charges have been filed in the deaths of two Chicago police officers hit by a train.
Authorities are identifying the man who has been questioned by police since Monday night.
The suspect is 24-year-old Edward Brown. He’s the man police said the officers were chasing across the train tracks when they were struck and killed by that train.
He is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Brown has no criminal background. He allegedly found the gun and was testing it out to see if it worked. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
Police officers stood watch as the remains of officers Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo were transported to an Oak Lawn funeral home Thursday afternoon.
Authorities said Gary and Marmolejo were pursuing a suspect across the tracks in Rosemoor when they were distracted by an oncoming Metra electric train and never saw the South Shore Line train behind them.
It’s a grim case of deja vu for some Chicago police officers who have experienced this tragedy before. In 2002, Chicago Police Officer Benjamin Perez was struck and killed by a Metra train on the job near Cermak and Spaulding.
Perez and his partner saw the train coming but couldn’t get out of the way in time. But 16 years after that tragedy, CPD said it does not have official protocol for pursuing a suspect on active train tracks.
The original call came for a shot fired near the tracks in Rosemoor. Metra, which owns the tracks, said it would have needed an alert from Chicago police to stop or slow the train. The rail agency said it never received one.
That message would have been sent to the train operator of the South Shore Line that was closing in.
“Generally we do not want anyone on our right-of-way,” said South Shore Line president Michael Noland. “If there’s a requirement to be up there, any railroad is going to say they’re going to want to be notified just out of an abundance of caution and safety.”
The South Shore Line has downloaded the train’s event recorder and it’s being delivered to Chicago police which will have information on speed, headlights and whether the horn or bell sounded.
As for why the train operator never received a call, Noland said he doesn’t have enough facts to offer criticism. But a notification in these types of circumstances could have helped them slowed the train.
The Chicago Police Consent Decree would likely give guidance for police pursuits over active train tracks but that order is still in the final steps of approval.