By Associated Press - Tuesday, June 9, 2020

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A co-defendant in the August 2019 fatal shooting of an Illinois State Police trooper has pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge.

U.S. District Chief Judge Nancy Rosenstengel has ordered Al Stewart Jr., 20, to remain in jail until his sentencing in September. Stewart had been indicted on one count of unlawfully using a controlled substance while in possession of a gun. He faces armed violence, obstruction of justice and unlawful delivery of cannabis in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Stewart was living next door to Christopher Grant in an East St. Louis duplex when Grant allegedly shot to death Trooper Nick Hopkins as a no-knock warrant targeting drugs and illegal weapons was being served. Hopkins, the married father of three young children, was the first Illinois State Police trooper to be fatally shot in 30 years.

In his plea agreement, Stewart said he grabbed a pistol when he heard gunshots, but put it down when he went to a window and spotted Illinois State Police. He said Grant came to his home through an attic connection and said they needed to surrender. Grant has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in St. Clair County. He also faces federal charges connected to the case.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in his plea agreement, the original charges allege Stewart’s gun was linked to a double homicide in East St. Louis in 2018, an attempted murder in Washington Park in 2018, and a nonfatal shooting in East St. Louis in 2016. Stewart told investigators he found the gun when he moved into the home.

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