2 charged in death of off-duty Ill. cop killed breaking up robbery

Gage Thornton and Brandon Jackson, both 22, appeared in bond court Monday, hours after each were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted armed robbery


Associated Press

CHICAGO — Two men were being held without bond Monday in the shooting death of an off-duty Illinois sheriff's investigator who was trying to break up an armed robbery outside a family Christmas party in suburban Chicago.

Gage Thornton and Brandon Jackson, both 22, appeared in bond court Monday, hours after each were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted armed robbery.

Cuauhtemoc Estrada died Friday night after being shot in the chest. Sheriff's officials say the 50-year-old officer was shot when trying to intervene in the robbery outside a VFW hall in Bellwood when the pair tried to attack the boyfriend of Estrada's daughter.

Thornton and Jackson were arrested Saturday.

Police followed footsteps in the snow, which led them to Jackson's home that was several hundred feet away from the VFW, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Prosecutors said a black ski mask found in Jackson's jeans was the same kind worn by one of the men during the robbery attempt, and that a red and blue jacket in the home matched one the second man can be seen wearing in surveillance video footage.

Estrada, a former Marine, had been with the sheriff's department in Cook County for more than 20 years. He worked in the department's electronic monitoring unit.

Tim Curry, the former police chief in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, said he and Estrada had been friends for more than two decades.

"His family should know he was an important person to this community," Curry said.

Estrada — whose first name was pronounced kwaw-TEH'-mok — helped start a local Mexican Independence Day festival.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

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