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Four charged with home invasion; at least three shots fired during incident

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 4:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 11:52 p.m. CDT

GARDEN PRAIRIE – Three Rockford-area men and a woman have been arrested following an incident Friday evening in which at least three shots were fired and the suspects ended up being held at gunpoint, police say.

Charged with one count each of home invasion and attempted armed robbery were Brittany M. Rice, 24, of Rockford; Joshua C. Johnson, 23, of Rockford; Justin B. Mitchell, 28, of Rockford; and Nimrod D. Hilliard, 27, of Belvidere.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office received a report of shots fired in the 25000 block of Dunham Road near Garden Prairie, Lt. James Popovits said.

Rice knew the victim and had distracted him inside his trailer. He then called the other suspects and indicated that there was an opportunity to commit the crime, Popovits said.

Hilliard and Johnson then allegedly tried to enter the trailer armed with a pistol, but the victim saw them approaching.

“They get into the front door and the victim emerges from one of the rooms in the trailer with a gun himself,” Popovits said.

The two offenders then tried to run, but the victim pursued them, and Johnson fired a round in the victim’s direction, Popovits said.

As this was happening, two people in a house on the property heard the commotion and came out, each with firearms of their own. One of them fired a warning shot, Popovits said.

Hilliard and Johnson jumped into an SUV driven by Mitchell and tried to flee, but the vehicle became stuck in a snowbank.

Johnson ran away, leaving the gun – which Popovits said had been stolen – in the vehicle. He was found about 45 minutes later walking along the roadside.

Still in the car, Hilliard and Mitchell were held at gunpoint by the two people who came out of the farmhouse. To indicate where they were, a signal shot was fired when deputies arrived.

Popovits said the motive was cash.

“All four of these offenders conspired to commit an armed robbery against this person for money,” Popovits said, but declined to say how much or how they knew he had it.

Additional charges may be filed, Popovits said. Rice, Johnson, Mitchell and Hilliard remained in custody Monday afternoon at the McHenry County jail; bail for each was set at $100,000.

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