Three Illinois men -- accused of trying to rob a pizza restaurant only to be foiled by an off-duty cop -- now find themselves changed with murder for the death of the fourth would-be robber.
Police say one of the suspects was armed when they attempted to rob Marie's Pizza in Rockford on Saturday. An off-duty officer, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Pobjecky, was in the restaurant. He didn't have a weapon himself, but he managed to grab a gun from the waistband of an employee and open fire. Pobjecky hit all four suspects, killing the youngest one, 16-year-old Michael Sago.
Indictments were handed up against the three recovering suspects. They each face multiple counts, including first-degree murder for Sago's death.
“This was just a horrible incident that happened, and it’s got to stop in the city of Rockford,” said Police Chief Chet Epperson. “Your actions have consequences. And if you are going to rob in Rockford, we are going to build a case against you.”
Pobjecky was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. A grand jury is also looking into whether the shooting was justified. This is standard operating procedure in all officer-related shootings in the county, according to the Rockford Register Star.
“It’s not an easy thing to take a life, and we have to understand that officers do have adverse effects to that, and we want to make sure we offer him the opportunities to address those issues,” Sheriff Dick Meyers said, who added that Pobjecky has the full support of the department.