Downtown Flossmoor shooting leads to charges against Indiana man

An Indiana man is facing two felony charges following a late night shooting in downtown Flossmoor on Aug. 22, police said.

Bryan Oedzes, 44, of the 1200 block of Killarney Drive in Dyer, Ind., was charged Monday with aggravated discharge of a weapon and a hate crime, Deputy Chief Tod Kamleiter said.

Oedzes is an employee at Angelo's Fresh Market.

According to a Flossmoor Police Department press release, the shooting took place in the late evening hours when two men encountered each other on a downtown street.

At about 11:30 p.m., the victim had just gotten off the train at the Flossmoor Metra station and was walking south on the west side of Sterling Avenue. Kamleiter said the victim told police that a man who was standing on the sidewalk swore at him and told him, “You don’t belong here,” using a racial slur.

According to a police report, the man then took a handgun from his bag and pointed it at the victim, who is African American. The victim said he fell to the ground and pleaded with the man not to shoot him. Then he got up with his hands up and started walking across the street toward the area where the Flossmoor Station caboose is located. While he was walking, the man fired a shot in his direction.

The victim ran to the east side of Flossmoor Station and pounded on the restaurant windows. Employees let him into the building and he asked them to call the police.

Kamleiter said the victim positively identified Oedzes as the man with the gun. Police interviewed other witnesses and obtained evidence, including a shell casing that was found along Sterling Avenue.

Oedzes provided his version of the incident to the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle.

He said a witness has already given a statement that a racial slur was not uttered, and that "the other person was acting in a strange and threatening manner."

Oedzes said the "other person involved was extremely drunk." (According to the Flossmoor police report, it appeared that the victim was intoxicated. However, Kamleiter said video evidence corrorborated the victim's story.)

Oedzes said he has Multiple Sclerosis "and as such I have the inability to defend myself as a normal person would. It is the reason I have chosen to carry a gun, and played heavily into the incident, and why a warming shot was fired."

Oedzes said he has a valid conceal and carry license for his handgun.  

"It should also be noted that the person was walking down the middle of the street," Oedzes said. "The incident only occurred after he started yelling toward us. I told him he should get out of the street and over on the sidewalk before he got run over or otherwise hurt because he was in the middle of the street, and it was late and dark."

Much of the shooting incident was recorded on video cameras in the downtown area, Kamleiter said. The video footage corroborates the victim’s story, he said.

Immediately before the incident, videos show Oedzes and a companion drinking on the Flossmoor Station patio. Right before the shooting, videos show them crossing the street to Angelo’s Fresh Market. Kamleiter said video footage shows the encounter between the two men, the victim dropping to the ground, crossing the street with his hands up and the muzzle flash from the gun.

The victim was not injured in the incident, the press release says.

After Oedzes was arrested, he told police that he was afraid the man he encountered was going to rob him, the police report states. He said he fired the shot to scare the other man. Kamleiter said Oedzes should have called the police if he was afraid of the man outside his store.

Following the arrest, police recovered Oedzes’ handgun, a 9 mm Glock semiautomatic pistol, Kamleiter said.

Oedzes appeared before a judge at the Markham courthouse on Wednesday. The judge ordered a $30,000 bond. Oedzes was freed from custody after posting 10 percent of that amount.

In the press release, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun and Police Chief Michael Pulec commented on the downtown shooting.

“We were shocked and very saddened to learn of these alleged events,” Braun said. “Flossmoor has always been and always will be an inclusive community that values the diversity of its residents and businesses. This event is not a reflection of our community, its residents or its businesses. While the events of the last week give us concern, it is still a fact that Flossmoor continues to have a low crime rate and is a safe community.

“Thanks to the swift actions of the Flossmoor Police Department and cooperative witnesses, we were able to conclude the investigation of this case. Flossmoor will continue to work vigorously to protect our community and to bring closure for the victims of criminal activity."

Pulec thanked the Flossmoor community for its cooperation during the investigation.

“Our officers take hate crimes very seriously, and their response was fast and decisive,” Pulec said. “The Flossmoor Police Department will not tolerate acts of violence against individuals based along the lines of race, religion, gender or any other identity and violate the basic values of our community. Flossmoor continues to have the lowest crime rate in the South Suburbs. This act does not reflect the makeup and values of this community.”

Oedzes told the Chronicle that he and the owner of Angelo's Fresh Market have been part of the community for 40 years and have friends in Flossmoor and meticulous reputations.

"We have been nothing but good friends and neighbors, including to African Americans, who for the record are both neighbors of ours and business neighbors," he said.

 

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