Updated 12/23/13 – 11:18 a.m.
BELLWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — Two men have been ordered held without bond, accused of shooting and killing a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy as the officer tried to stop them from robbing his daughter and her boyfriend over the weekend.
Gage Thornton and Brandon Jackson, both 22, both have been charged with three counts of murder, and one count of attempted armed robbery, in the shooting death of Cook County Sheriff’s Officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports Estrada, 50, was a father of four who was at a family festival Friday night, when he saw two young men trying to rob his daughter and her boyfriend outside the VFW Post 5081 in Bellwood.
Police said Estrada identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and tried to intervene, but was gunned down.
Estrada was a sheriff’s investigator for more than 20 years, and was a former U.S. Marine.
“He was an exceptional investigator but an even better man who loved his family, his friends and his country,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “Quite simply, he made this world a better place and will be missed by all whose lives he touched.”
After talking to witnesses to the shooting, and following up on several leads, detectives zeroed in on a home in Bellwood, and arrested Thornton and Jackson at Jackson’s home, on the same block as the VFW hall where Estrada was killed.
“It’s a huge relief. It’s really a relief, because we wanted closure for the family. It’s very traumatic to the family to lose a loved one so close to the holidays,” said Bellwood Public Safety Director Andre Harvey. “We wanted – before the holidays – to actually get the family some closure.”
At a bond hearing at the Maywood Courthouse on Monday, a Cook County judge denied Jackson and Thornton bail.
Prosecutors said Jackson was the one who shot Estrada.
Thornton allegedly confessed that he and Jackson went to the VFW hall to commit a robbery, and Jackson shot Estrada when the deputy tried to intervene.
Prosecutors said they have surveillance video from the VFW parking lot, showing Jackson wearing a red hoodie and a ski mask, and Thornton in a distinctive red jacket with blue sleeves.
They also said Estrada pulled out a gun when he realized Jackson and Thornton were trying to rob his daughter and her boyfriend, but Jackson shot him first.
Jackson and Thornton fled 400 feet to Jackson’s grandmother’s house after shooting Estrada.
Police followed their tracks in the snow, and arrested the pair early the next morning.
Detectives found a box for a .44-caliber gun, and the clothes the two suspects were wearing at the time of the murder, according to prosecutors.