CHICAGO — An Englewood man sent theater student Kevin Ambrose "running for his life" before shooting him to death near a Bronzeville "L" stop Tuesday night, prosecutors said.
Jerome Brown, of the 7400 block of South Emerald Avenue, is being held without bail after appearing in court Friday on first-degree murder charges.
"This is just a relief," said Kristen Ambrose, Kevin Ambrose's sister, outside of the family's Bronzeville home. "We've been grieving like crazy."
Ambrose was walking to the 47th Street Green Line Station Tuesday night to meet a friend so that the friend wouldn't have to walk the short distance from the train to Ambrose's home alone, friends and family said.
As Ambrose was walking to the station, Brown drove up and got out of a light-colored sedan before grabbing a handgun from the trunk, Assistant State's Attorney Jackie Kwilos said.
Brown spotted Ambrose and started chasing him, leaving him "running for his life," Kwilos said.
After Brown shot Ambrose multiple times in his back, Ambrose continued running until he collapsed in an alley, authorities said.
Brown was identified by a witness when he later returned to the area in the same car with some friends, Kwilos said.
Prosecutors didn't say why Brown might've targeted Ambrose, a Columbia College Chicago student, but Ambrose's family said they were told by police Brown had been jumped in the neighborhood and was looking to retaliate.
Amrbose's mother, Ebony Ambrose, said the witness to her son's murder stopped by her house to tell her family what had happened. She said she was grateful the witness came forward to police and the family because "you just don't get that nowadays."
"He is a brave, brave man," Ambrose said. "He was just saying that he had to tell. He had to say something."
Kristen Ambrose said the witness told the family he was describing the shooter's car to the police near the scene of the shooting when the same car actually drove past them.
"They asked, 'A car like that?' And he said, 'That is them,' " she said.
Brown was arrested and later tested positive for gunshot residue, Kwilos said.
In court Friday, Marijane Placek, Brown's public defender, said "unless there is a typographical error on the arrest report" he wasn't arrested until 8:17 p.m. Wednesday, the night after the shooting.
"It doesn't play out quite the way the state says," said Placek, who argued for Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. to set a reasonable bail for Brown.
Bourgeois, though, rejected her request.
"I don't think there are any conditions of bond I could set that could keep everyone safe," he said. "Does it sound better if I say the bond is $20 million in cash?"
Brown was out on parole on an aggravated robbery conviction at the time of the shooting, Kwilos said. He had previously been convicted of burglary.
Meanwhile, Ambrose's friends said they were also happy to hear someone had been charged in the murder.
"I'm happy and glad," said Michael Dye, the 19-year-old friend who Ambrose was going to meet. "I just hope that the person they got is the person who did it."
Dye was headed to Ambrose's home to catch up with him and another friend who was back in town from his first year of college.
Shortly before the shooting, Ambrose talked to Dye on the phone, saying he could see Dye's train coming and he'd meet with him shortly.
As Dye stepped onto the platform, he said he saw someone running and heard three or four gunshots, Dye said.
Dye called Ambrose twice, and when he didn't get a response he ran down the station stairs and saw his friend on the ground.
A graduate of Kenwood Academy, Ambrose had an interest in behind-the-scenes theater work and took part in a youth dancing program with the Joffrey Ballet.
Though he maintained an interest in the fine arts, he was looking to transfer to a community college to study criminal justice, family said.