Aurora man ID'd as dead suspect in Va. trooper's fatal shooting

RICHMOND, Va. (WLS) -- An Aurora man suspected of killing a Virginia state trooper Thursday afternoon in Richmond, Virginia.

Investigators identified the suspect as James Brown III, 34, from Aurora.

Brown had a lengthy criminal history in Illinois. Charged with attempted murder in 2001, in later years he faced felony drug charges and battery of a pregnant woman. His childhood friend said the way Brown died does not come as a complete surprise.

Brown is accused of shooting and killing Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer at a Richmond Greyhound bus station. Brown grew up on North May Street in Aurora.

Terry Pryor said he met James Brown as a teen. They were in the same street gang.

"In this neighborhood here, we have a big problem with the police actually. So the attitude toward the cops here is not very pleasant," Pryor said.

Court records obtained by the I-Team show Brown was arrested multiple times in recent years.

-Charged with attempted murder in 2001
-Unlawfully possessing a weapon or body armor in 2006
-And aggravated battery on a pregnant woman in 2011 when court records say he sat on his girlfriend's belly, choking her, while yelling "I'm going to kill... you are not going to live after today!" Brown was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Brown often pleaded guilty to lesser charges or a single charge after being charged with several crimes.

On Thursday, police say Brown shot and killed the 37-year-old Virginia state trooper before being killed by return fire. Two women were also shot, but are expected to recover.

"It's startling to think that he's doing that stuff out there, I've seen him here about a month ago," Pryor said.

Court records obtained by the I-Team show Brown's most recent conviction was in Kane County in 2015 for driving on a suspended license.

Brown's weapon and 143 rounds were discovered in his possession after the shooting, Virginia State Police say. The weapon was bought legally 13 months ago, but not by Brown. The ATF is investigating to find out who purchased it.

Authorities say Brown's Greyhound trip originated in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and he was headed to Chicago. Police say he appeared to be traveling alone.

When Virginia State Trooper Chad P. Dermyer pulled a woman over last year on Interstate 64 for expired license plates, his gut told him something wasn't right.

Dermyer called a former partner and said the driver was acting normal but he couldn't shake a strange feeling. Dermyer eventually searched the trunk and found the remains of the driver's long-missing son, authorities said. The driver has since been charged with murder.

It was the kind of career-making stop that friends and colleagues said highlighted his natural gift for police work. Dermyer was fatally shot Thursday at the Richmond Greyhound bus station when a gunman opened fire.

"That was him: he dug, he didn't give up," said Cyndi Grace, who partnered with Dermyer for four years at the Newport News Police Department. "He was exceptional in every sense of the word."

Dermyer had been participating with about a dozen other troopers in a training exercise at the bus station. Police said Brown shot Dermyer before being killed by two other troopers. Police have not said what Brown's motive may have been.

The injured women's names haven't been released, but a spokesman for Binghamton University in New York said that one of them was a member of the school's track team. The team was headed Thursday to a meet at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, about 50 miles from Richmond.

The Binghamton student was released from the hospital Friday, spokesman Ryan Yarosh said. The other victim was 47. Authorities said both women were just passing through the station when they were shot.

On Friday, friends and family fondly recalled Dermyer as a devoted family man and consummate professional.

"He was a gentle outgoing person who would do anything for anyone," his brother John Dermyer Jr. said in an email.

Earlier this year, Dermyer and another trooper became mini celebrities when they helped rescue a lost dog running through interstate traffic in Hampton. Jeffrey Corbin, the dog's owner, said Dermyer's easy going personality helped reshape Corbin's view of police.

"I don't have a lot of contact with state troopers, but in my mind's eye they seem to be all business," Corbin said. "But he seemed to be a really warm person. ... He had a warm persona about him."

Dermyer is survived by his wife and two children. He was a former Marine who previously served on police forces in in Jackson and Newport News, Virginia.

The Richmond Greyhound station where the shooting occurred was scheduled to re-open Friday afternoon. Police continue to investigate the sequence that led to Brown shooting Dermyer.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said Dermyer had been participating with about a dozen other troopers in a training exercise at the bus station when a brief encounter with the gunman quickly turned violent. Dermyer was dressed in a fatigue-style uniform and was not wearing a protective vest, the superintendent said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene.

Najee Wilson, 18, of Newark, New Jersey, said his bus was pulling up to the station when he heard three gunshots and saw people running out of the building.

"We heard a lot of people screaming," Wilson said. "It definitely was a scary experience."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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