Suspect in Illinois State Police trooper killing arraigned, says he doesn’t have a lawyer

The man accused in the shooting death of an Illinois State Police trooper was arraigned Monday on first-degree murder charges in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Also on Monday, prosecutors charged a second suspect in connection with the shooting Friday that led to a police standoff in East St. Louis.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Christopher R. Grant, 45, charged Saturday with killing Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, did not enter a plea in front of Circuit Judge John O’Gara during a video arraignment from the St. Clair County Jail. His bail has been set at $5 million.

Grant sat in a chair among other inmates being arraigned that day via videoconferencing.

Grant told O’Gara that he was “looking into it” when asked whether he would be getting a private attorney. Online records indicated he did not yet have a lawyer.

Hopkins was shot during an exchange of gunfire while S.W.A.T. operators were serving a search warrant at an East St. Louis duplex early Friday morning.

Hopkins, who is survived by his wife and three children, died at 6:10 p.m. Friday, Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly said.

A grand jury is looking over the evidence against Grant, O’Gara said during the arraignment. The grand jury has 30 days to indict him. The potential penalties for the charge are anywhere from 20 years in prison to life without the possibility of parole.

According to St. Clair County Circuit Clerk records, Grant has had multiple criminal charges levied against him, including a 2003 felony conviction for the manufacture, delivery and possession of narcotics near a school for which he was sentenced to four years in prison plus fines. He was also convicted of attempting to resist or obstruct a peace officer in 1998. That case was also investigated by Illinois State Police.

The State’s Attorney’s office has said that the search warrant documents in this case will not be released due to a court order, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Meanwhile, one of two other people taken into custody Friday was charged Monday.

Al Stewart Jr., 19, of 1426 North 42nd St., East St. Louis, was charged with armed violence, obstructing justice, and possession with the intent to distribute cannabis. He is being held on $250,000 bond.

It could not be immediately determined whether the third person is still being held.

Police standoff unfolds in East St. Louis

Around 5:30 a.m. Friday, East St. Louis police, ISP and tactical units attempted to execute a search warrant at a duplex in the 1400 block of Caseyville Avenue at North 42nd Street. During that time, Hopkins was shot when he entered the home.

Hopkins was taken to St. Louis University Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Three people were taken into custody, but throughout the day it was unclear whether someone was still inside the house, possibly armed, resulting in the police standoff.

During the day, police and K-9 officers entered the duplex by force, but immediately exited again. An armored vehicle knocked windows out of the structure. Smoke or gas billowed from them openings following a loud boom.

Additional attempts to flush the suspect from the building with gas and loud booms, possibly stun grenades, were made throughout the afternoon. Around 5 p.m., officers were hitting the duplex with water from a firehose.

Many residents in the neighborhood were blocked from entering their homes by police barricades.

The scene was finally cleared Friday evening and the final suspect was taken into custody. Grant was charged with first-degree murder on Saturday evening.

Funeral service

The visitation will be 3-9 p.m. Saturday at Waterloo High School at 505 E. Bulldog. A first-responder and military walk-through will begin at 6 p.m.

The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at Waterloo High School. Interment services are still being finalized.