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Man pleads guilty in fatal shooting of state police trooper

Al Stewart Jr. pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to armed violence, obstructing justice, and possession with intent to distribute cannabis charges
Credit: Illinois State Police

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — One of two men charged in the 2019 fatal shooting of an Illinois State Police trooper in East St. Louis has changed his not guilty plea. 

The St. Clair County state’s attorney office says Al Stewart Jr. pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to armed violence, obstructing justice, and possession with intent to distribute cannabis charges.

Trooper Nicholas Hopkins of Waterloo was wounded during an exchange of gunfire while serving the warrant for drug offenses in August 2019. He later died at a hospital. 

Christopher R. Grant, who lived at the home where the warrant was being served, is awaiting trial on a murder charge. Stewart’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

On March 18, 2020, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis returned an eight-count indictment charging Grant with several federal crimes, including using a gun to murder Hopkins in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

“On that devastating day in August, the U.S. Attorney’s Office pledged every available resource to support this investigation and to support the men and women of law enforcement - today’s indictment keeps that promise,” said U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft. “We continue to mourn for Nick and his family and we will continue our work to honor his sacrifice.”

According to the federal indictment, Grant was using the house where the warrant was executed to distribute controlled substances. The indictment states Grant knowingly fired a Glock, Model 19, 9mm caliber pistol, causing trooper Hopkins’ death with “malice aforethought,” the state of mind needed to prove it was murder and not an accident.