Following a Cook County grand jury indictment, an Indiana man is now facing five felony counts in the aftermath of a shooting in downtown Flossmoor this summer.
Bryan Oedzes is now charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm, three counts of a hate crime and unlawful use of a weapon, the indictment states.
Oedzes, 44, of Dyer, Ind., pleaded not guilty to the charges on Sept. 27. His next court appearance is Monday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m. in Room 105 of the Cook County District 6 Courthouse in Markham.
The grand jury issued the indictment on Sept. 19. Prior to the indictment, Oedzes was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of a hate crime.
According to Flossmoor police, Oedzes was charged after firing his handgun in the direction of another man at about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 22. Police said the gun was fired from the sidewalk in front of Angelo’s Fresh Market, 1044 Sterling Ave. Oedzes was working at the store on the night of the shooting.
The indictment’s three hate crime counts are based on the proximity of the shooting to three institutions near downtown Flossmoor. The handgun was fired within 1,000 feet of Flossmoor Park, Infant Jesus of Prague Church and the church’s school, the indictment states. A separate count based on each of those locations was added to the indictment.
The unlawful use of a weapon count is based on Oedzes knowingly carrying his firearm in a location that is “not his land, or in his abode or legal dwelling or fixed place of business, or on the land or the legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission,” the indictment states.
According to the indictment, the handgun was “uncased, loaded and immediately accessible, and [Oedzes] had not been issued a currently valid license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, at the time of the offense.”
Oedzes has said that he has a concealed carry license in Indiana.
Police said the shooting occurred after the two men encountered each other on a downtown street. The victim, who appeared to be intoxicated, had just gotten off the train at the Flossmoor Metra station and was walking south on the west side of Sterling Avenue.
Deputy Police Chief Tod 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.
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.
Oedzes provided his version of the incident to the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle in a Sept. 2 story.
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 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 warning shot was fired.”
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.
Police said the victim was not injured in the incident.
After Oedzes was arrested on Aug. 30, 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 the store