EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — The man charged with shooting Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins to death in 2019 pled guilty to second-degree murder Friday.[READ: Family, Friends gather to say emotional goodbye to ISP Trooper Nick Hopkins]
Christopher Grant, 47, initially pled not guilty to all charges, but as part of the plea agreement he reached with prosecutors, pled guilty to Hopkins’ murder along with gun and drug charges.
On August 23, 2019, Hopkins was part of a team executing a search warrant near Caseyville Avenue and North 42nd Street in East St. Louis shortly before 5:30 a.m.
Grant shot Hopkins during the operation and Hopkins died from his injuries the at St. Louis University Hospital at 6:10 p.m. His death was the first of an Illinois State Police SWAT team member in 20 years.
According to the indictment, Grant was using the home to distribute controlled substances. In addition to Hopkins’ murder, he was charged with three counts distribution of crack cocaine, maintaining a drug house, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, use of a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of a drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Grant’s guilty plea includes all charges other than use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
He is set to be sentenced November 9.
Trooper Hopkins was a 10-year veteran of the Illinois State Police. Hopkins was married and the father of four-year-old twins and an infant daughter at the time of his murder.
“Nick Hopkins was a bright light in this world,” said ISP Acting Director Brendan Kelly.
In Waterloo, Hopkins’s hometown, residents are heartbroken. Mayor Tom Smith said being a state trooper was Hopkins’ calling.
“He always had a smile, he loved it,” Smith said. “His dad said Nick was so happy when he made the tactical response team and he just loved it, so he was happy to be a trooper.”
Hopkins father currently serves as an alderman in Waterloo.
His brother is an officer in Columbia, Illinois.
Mayor Smith says Hopkins was also a skilled business man who flipped properties in Waterloo.
Hopkins’ body and organs will be donated to help save up to 40 people.