UPDATE: Douglass shooting suspects charged with murder following sheriff’s death

By David Mercer

CHAMPAIGN – A sheriff’s deputy shot while trying to stop a crime spree that eventually included a bank standoff has died, and prosecutors planned to file murder charges against the suspects, authorities said Wednesday.

Tommy Martin, 59, was shot in the face and torso June 21 while responding to a report of a burglary in progress. He died about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at an Urbana hospital, Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said in a statement.

An autopsy will be conducted, the coroner’s office said.

William B. Thompson, 26, and Yusef Kareem Brown, 23, each were charged with three counts of first-degree murder Wednesday afternoon following the death of Martin, Diana Eveland, a spokesman for Douglas County State’s Attorney Kevin Nolan, said Wednesday.

Thompson and Brown already were charged with attempted murder and other crimes. Thompson also faces charges of taking hostages at a bank in Arcola, a small Douglas County town about 150 miles south of Chicago. All the hostages were safely released.

Thompson and Brown last week pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A member of Martin’s family posted a brief, unsigned statement Wednesday morning on a Web site where both his son and daughter have written the past few weeks about his condition.

“The past few days have been very hard on my family, and especially my Dad… I wish that there had been a different ending, but my Dad is now at peace.”

Authorities said the crimes began when Brown and Thompson fled a traffic stop on Interstate 57. The two then robbed a house and stole a car and van before one of them shot Martin – who was responding to the burglary – as they drove past him.

The suspects then allegedly abandoned the truck and drove away in the van.

After a high-speed chase, Brown was arrested but police said Thompson went into the First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust in Arcola and took hostages. Thompson released four hostages over seven hours, then peacefully left the bank with the last hostage.

Martin, a native of Tuscola and a member of the sheriff’s department since 2004, was well-known to many of the 4,500 people in the county seat. At a hearing last Friday, the judge handling the case, Michael Carroll, said he’d known Martin all his life and called him a friend.

Even the public defender representing Thompson, Jim Lee, considered Martin a friend. He said that would not affect his defense of Thompson, and on Wednesday said he might ask that the trial be moved.

“I have a job to do,” Lee said. “If Tommy was here now, he’d tell you the same thing. He’d understand that.”

The co-owner of the funeral home handling Martin’s funeral arrangements said he’d known him for years, too.

“His brother was in my mother’s graduating class here in town,” said Tim Hilligoss, of the Hilligoss-Shrader Funeral Home. “He always asked how my mother was. I always appreciated that.”

Martin spent the 27 days since his shooting at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

According to the Web site his family maintained the past few weeks, doctors operated on him at least three times, including a tracheotomy to ease his breathing. He was nourished through a feeding tube and for a time was connected to a kidney dialysis machine.

Martin hadn’t spoken since he was shot, according to the Web site, but was sometimes conscious and able to answer questions with nods.

The last entry before Martin’s death, written Monday morning, was optimistic: “He is still very critical, but this is a great thing to know that he is getting a little better now.”

At a hearing Friday, State Police investigator Matt McCormick testified that Thompson and Brown admitted breaking into a home in rural northern Douglas County on June 21. McCormick said Thompson also admitted to later shooting at a state police car during the high-speed chase.

Chicago police say they’ve also spoken with Thompson and Brown about the stabbing death of 40-year-old Arnie Graves, who was found dead in his South Side condominium the same day. Police said the car Brown and Thompson were driving when they were first pulled over in Douglas County was registered to Graves. No one has been charged or arrested in Graves’ death.