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Bronzeville Liquor Store Security Guard, Victor Brown, Charged With Murder In Shooting Death Of Chicago Grandmother Bobbye Johnson

By Jackie Kostek, Charlie De Mar, and Marissa Parra

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A security guard for a Bronzeville liquor store has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a Chicago grandmother dead, accused of grabbing another security guard's gun and recklessly firing 20 shots down the street after another man had shot him in the foot during an argument.

Victor Brown, 34, is facing one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon in Bobbye Johnson's death. She was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon as she stepped out of the Chase Bank at 3500 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., about four blocks away from the liquor store where Brown was working.

"Ms. Johnson was simply walking down the street one minute, and an innocent victim. She was caught in senseless crossfire in the next moment. She was a mother and a grandmother, a friend and a confidante, and a woman of faith who will never be forgotten," Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said Friday morning.

Prosecutors said Victor Brown was working security at Wood's Food and Liquor and Jamaican Jerk King restaurant at 35th Street and Indiana Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, when he got into an argument with another man, who goes by the nickname "Renegade," and had been an issue on the block in the past, and had been banned from the store and restaurant.

Surveillance video showed "Renegade" with his hands in his pockets as he argued with Brown, who put both of his fists near the man's face. Prosecutors said a nurse who was waiting at a nearby bus stop claimed Brown was "acting belligerently" and saw him walk up to the man and threaten him, raising his fists at him, before the man shot Brown in the foot, while the gunman still had his hands in his pockets.

Prosecutors said another security guard at the shop, who had a concealed carry license and a valid FOID card, pulled out his gun and aimed at the shooter, but didn't fire his weapon because there were too many bystanders around, and the gunman was too far away. However, after Brown fell to the ground, he first pulled out a starter pistol that contained only blanks, and fired in the gunman's direction, according to prosecutors.

Police and prosecutors said Brown then grabbed the other security guard's gun, sat up, and fired a total of 20 shots at the gunman while he was more than a block away on a busy street. The nurse who witnessed the shooting told police she screamed at Brown to stop shooting.

A stray bullet struck Johnson in the chest as she was about four blocks away. She was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

CBS 2 has learned that Brown barely had any training as a security guard.

CBS 2's Jackie Kostek spoke to the security guard's boss.

The owner of Bounty TAC Force, which employed Brown, said the guard had just been hired and had worked about 10 shifts. The owner confirmed Brown was the security guard working outside Wood's Food and Liquor at 35th Street and Indiana Avenue on Tuesday, when he got into a shootout.

Meanwhile Thursday, CBS 2's Charlie De Mar visited the sanctuary at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in South Shore, which will now forever have an empty seat. Johnson sang in the choir there. On Sundays, you could find her at the microphone.

"Very engaging, very talented," Scott Onque, pastor of the church. "All of the pictures you're going to see, you're going to find her smiling."

Johnson was a friend to Pastor Onque.

"She just did not deserve to die in the streets of Chicago," he said. "It's just such a disregard of life."

A police source said the incident started with an argument between Brown and a man outside the liquor store on Monday.

Police said that man returned Tuesday, he and Brown got into another argument, and the man shot Brown once in the leg. As the man ran away east on 35th Street, Brown shot in his direction, according to a police report.

Stevie McDuffey, an eyewitness who spoke to CBS 2, described Brown's actions as reckless.

"He was laying there on the ground and just shooting down the block," he said. "He could've shot anybody that came out of any one of those stores down there."

Brown has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2005, involving armed robbery and domestic battery. Prosecutors said he also is wanted on arrest warrants in Madison County for speeding and driving on a suspended license, is facing three open speeding cases in DuPage County, and served five years in prison after pleading guilty to armed robbery charges in 2010.

His bail was set at $1 million on Friday. He remains hospitalized from his gunshot wound.

The owner of the security company said he did do a background check but did not know Brown had a record.

"When you think about the recklessness that he was just shooting - and he reloaded," Pastor Onque said.

The owner said Brown came in with standard 20- and 40-hour security training certificates.

Police are still looking for the man who fired the first shot.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Johnson.

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