Fourteen years before an Illinois State Police trooper said Gregory K. Nelson took a shot at him, Nelson faced charges for pulling a gun on a Madison County deputy.
Nelson, of East St. Louis, saw that charge dropped, but wound up going to prison for filing the serial number off of the gun he used in the crime.
“Anytime someone pulls a gun on anyone it needs to be taken seriously,” Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Link said. “We are lucky that no one was injured in this case. It was a very dangerous situation and we take it seriously everyday.”
Nelson, 52, of East St. Louis, currently faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Nelson is accused of firing a shot at a trooper who was conducting a traffic stop about 11:30 p.m. June 23 on the northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 255 from State Street in East St. Louis.
The trooper stopped Nelson, who was suspected of driving under the influence. When he asked Nelson to get out of the car for a field sobriety test, Nelson pulled a gun and fired at the trooper. The trooper returned fire and Nelson fled on foot.
Nelson was captured four days later at an apartment building in St. Ann, Mo. The identity of the trooper was not released.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and defense attorney Alex Enyart declined to comment because the case is pending.
“As an office policy, I do not comment on pending cases,” Enyart said.
The Madison County case had similarities.
According to court records, Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Reynolds saw a man standing on the parking lot of the Schnucks store in Godfrey about 9 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2001. Nelson got into a car when he saw Reynolds drive onto the parking lot, a police report stated.
“He told me he was waiting for a female inside the store,” Reynolds said of Nelson, according to the report.
Nelson then gave Reynolds a false name: Walter B. Nelson, with a birthday of Sept. 12, 1951, and an East St. Louis address. Reynolds patted down Nelson.
“I then asked him to step from the vehicle while I patted him down for weapons,” Reynolds wrote. “While patting him down outside the car, I felt a hard object on his left hip that felt like a butt of a weapon tucked into his pants. He lunged to the right and I held onto him. He was able to get the weapon out and as he turned and tried to point the weapon at me, said, ‘You (expletive).’”
Reynolds got control of Nelson’s arm as they struggled, keeping Nelson from point the gun at him, according to the police report. The two men went to the ground in the struggle, allowing Reynolds to gain control of the gun. Nelson fled the scene on foot. Reynolds found there was a round in the chamber and a clip inside the .45 caliber pistol and the serial number had been removed.
The 1994 Hyundai Elantra that Nelson had been inside before the struggle came back stolen from East St. Louis, the report stated.
Reynolds had cuts on his face, hands and left knee. His pants were torn.
Nelson was booked into the Madison County Jail on March 22, 2001 — more than a month after the incident in Godfrey. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, 2001, agreeing to spend five years in prison for defacing a firearm in exchange for dismissing the aggravated battery of a police officer charge.
At the time, Nelson had two convictions for resisting a police officer in St. Clair County. He served 16 days in the county jail for those charges.
Nelson was extradited from Missouri on Thursday. He is in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.