A Chester police officer in his early 20s died in a crash Friday night during a pursuit.
Officer James Brockmeyer, 22, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in Chester. Police were conducting a manhunt Saturday for the subject of the pursuit: a 34-year-old Chester man.
The crash happened about 10 p.m. Friday on Palestine Road in rural Randolph County, about 2 miles north of Chester.
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A memorial with flowers and candles marked the crash site Saturday morning. Evidence flags marked the path of Brockmeyer’s cruiser, as it went down a grassy side of the roadway before flipping.
Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker, in a news release, said the officer was attempting to stop a 2006 red Pontiac G6, bearing license plate number Z121833. The driver of the vehicle has been identified as Jason Michael Stoker, 34, of Chester, according to Walker.
Walker said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Stoker on a charge of aggravated fleeing and eluding. Additional charges “are likely,” the prosecutor said.
Police asked that anyone with information on the whereabouts of Stoker contact local police or the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office at 618-826-5484. Anyone found to be concealing the whereabouts of Stoker, or helping him to evade police, will be prosecuted, Walker said.
Police Chief Ryan Coffey said police had not yet tracked Stoker down. Investigators were working under the assumption that Stoker was in hiding or on the run.
“We assume that he is,” Coffey said.
Coffey said Brockmeyer joined the department about 10 months ago.
“He was a very well-respected man in the community,” the chief said. “Dedicated and a true professional.”
Brockmeyer also was a volunteer firefighter.
Chester Mayor Tom Page said he was informed of the crash Friday night, and later met with the officer’s parents and girlfriend.
“It’s just one of those calls that you never want to get,” he said. “I met with the family last night, or this morning.”
News of the officer’s death spread quickly through the community.
“If you judge by Facebook, there’s all kinds of notes on there, how sorry people are for the family,” Page said. “It’s just a bad situation. It’s a sad situation.”
Brockmeyer graduated from the Southwestern Illinois Police Academy in April.
The police department said an autopsy occurred Saturday.
“We ask that you please keep the officer’s family in your thoughts and prayers,” the department wrote in a Facebook post.
Stoker has been arrested or cited a handful of times in Randolph County, according to court records, on charges that include battery, domestic battery, obstructing a police officer, driving on a suspended license, operating an uninsured vehicle and unlawful transportation of alcohol.
The Southern Illinois Fire Incidents Facebook page, in a post on Friday night, said heavy rescue equipment and a medical helicopter were called to the crash scene. The officer was trapped in the vehicle, according to the post.