Woman charged with murder in Schaumburg hotel shootout

March 16, 2010 4:56:39 PM PDT
An Elgin woman - arrested last week on prostitution charges - is now charged with murder in a Tuesday morning shootout at a northwest suburban Schaumburg hotel that left one man dead and another injured during an apparent robbery attempt.

Kristian Branch, of Elgin, was charged with three counts of attempted armed robbery, and one count each of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree, according to Schaumburg police Sgt. John Nebl.

Branch was arrested last Thursday at a Schaumburg hotel during a sting operation targeting prostitution being advertised online, according to the Cook County Sheriff's office.

Tuesday's incident happened about 1:20 a.m. in a hotel room at the Homestead Suites, 51 E. State Parkway and left two men shot, one fatally, according to Schaumburg police Sgt. John Nebl.

Mario Cortez Charles, 28, of 214 Waldo St. in Rockford, was pronounced dead at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital at 7:12 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Police learned Charles and Branch went to a third floor room in the hotel where they were allowed access to a room occupied by four people, according to a Schaumburg police release. The group included a 26-year-old Minnesota man who was later shot, a man and woman from Minnesota and a 27-year-old woman from Pearl River, Louisiana who had an outstanding bond forfeiture warrant from a Schaumburg prostitution arrest last fall.

The four people in the room knew Charles and Branch and allowed them entry, Nebl said, which is why the incident was not a room-invasion.

Charles and Branch were attempting to rob the four occupants of the room as Charles pulled out a handgun. The 26-year-old Minnesota man also pulled a handgun and shots were fired by both men. Both were struck by gunfire, the release said.

The Minnesota man suffered two gunshot wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening, the release said. He has not been charged with anything yet as police have not been able to speak with him, Nebl said. The other three people in the room were released Tuesday morning and are being labeled as victims nd witnesses, he said.

The incident was confined to the single hotel room and the hotel was not evacuated, Nebl said.

Branch is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Wednesday morning at the Rolling Meadows courthouse.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2009.)