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Bloomington Police and an Illinois State Police SWAT team surrounded Floyd Brown in his car after a 150 mph chase across Illinois that ended in a ravine north of Lincoln Thursday, March 7, 2019. Brown allegedly killed McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner during the serving of a warrant for Brown in Rockford.

ROCKFORD — A relative of a man accused of shooting and killing a McHenry County sheriff’s deputy last week says her half-brother is “not a monster.”

Christina Brown made the comment after a court hearing Monday in Rockford for Floyd Brown, 39, of Springfield, who is charged with murder in the death of Jacob Keltner.

The deputy was shot in Rockford on Thursday while he was part of a federal team trying to arrest Brown on a warrant, authorities said.

Monday marked Brown’s first court appearance. U.S. District Judge Iain Johnston set a preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. March 20.

Brown did not enter a plea. He told the court he is on two medications, including Norco, a narcotic, but said he understood the proceedings when asked by the judge.

He was taken into court in wheelchair, wearing prison scrubs and socks, but no shoes. He appeared to have bandages on both arms and a cast on one leg.

Brown suffered non-life-threatening injuries after his vehicle was forced off the road by state police on Interstate 55 near Lincoln. He had been pursued by police, including officers from McLean County, Bloomington and Normal, after the Rockford shooting, said State Police, who did not have specific information on the injuries.

Brown appeared to be wearing a brace around his waist in court. He was facing away from the court gallery so his face could not be seen during the proceedings.

His attorney, Paul Gaziano, did not ask for a bond hearing. An arrest warrant issued after Thursday’s shooting, but before Keltner was pronounced dead, set bond at $5 million.

Johnston ruled Brown would be held in the custody of the U.S. marshal until further order of the court. He ordered the marshal’s office to notify Gaziano where Brown will be held.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Talia Bucci told the judge the government wanted to detain Brown based on both his flight risk and his danger to the community.

Bucci and fellow assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Pedersen declined further comment after the hearing.

About 40 plainclothes police officers were in court, including McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim. Many of the officers hugged.

Christina Brown and her husband attended the hearing in support of Brown. “I love him and I’m going to be with him every step of the way,” she said.

She also extended her sympathies to Keltner’s family.

She said Floyd Brown grew up in the Springfield area and dropped out of high school but later got his diploma.

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 lives in Decatur and 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.

Their mother died of breast cancer at age 59 in October and Floyd Brown attended her funeral, she added.

Keltner, who was married with two children, was part of a U.S. Marshals team trying to arrest Brown on warrants stemming from his alleged violation of parole, among other things.

Brown was in a hotel room with his girlfriend when federal agents announced themselves in the hallway outside his room and he began shooting, police said. Brown dropped out of the third-floor window, then shot Keltner in the parking lot outside the hotel before fleeing in his own car.

Federal agents arrested Brown hours later after a car chase and a standoff in a rural field south near Lincoln. His girlfriend, who was treated for a minor gunshot wound from Brown’s gun, was not charged, police said.

Previously, Brown was sentenced to 13 years in prison for a series of burglaries in McLean and Macon counties in 2011. He also did time in prison on convictions for unlawful restraint, violating an order of protection and illegally possessing a firearm, Illinois Department of Corrections records showed. According to a 2011 story in the Decatur Herald-Review, 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.

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 wake for Keltner was set for 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at DeFiore Funeral Home in Huntley. A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Woodstock North High School.

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.

-- Chicago Tribune’s John Keilman contributed.


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