CHICAGO
12/23/2013 11:55 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Brandon Jackson And Gage Thornton Charged With Gunning Down Off-Duty Sheriff's Investigator

Two men are facing murder charges in connection to the shooting death of an off-duty Cook County Sheriff's investigator who was gunned down in suburban Chicago Friday night while trying to save his family from an armed robbery.

Brandon Jackson and Gage Thornton, both 22, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted armed robbery in the death of Officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada, the Sun-Times reports.

In bond court Monday, the two men were denied bail, CBS Chicago reports.

Security cameras helped investigators find Jackson and Thornton, Bellwood director of public safety Andre Harvey told the Tribune.

"[Thornton and Jackson] have a little background -- thefts, gang related activity, burglaries from garages -- that sort of stuff," Harvey told the Sun-Times.

Estrada was fatally shot in the chest around 7:30 p.m. Friday while hosting a Christmas party for family at a Bellwood VFW.

ABC Chicago reports the former Marine and 20-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff's Department saw two men trying to rob his daughter and her boyfriend at gunpoint in the parking lot as they brought food in from the car. Estrada reportedly reached for his weapon before he was shot.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and others praised Estrada for being both a community leader and devoted family man.

Dart previously said Estrada was "one of the best investigators [his] office ever had", and told the Tribune, "He was well known with his family as being the person who planned the parties, executed the parties. He was very meticulous about it and loved doing it ... For family events he was the guy."

"He won't be able to see me walking across the stage when I graduate from college," Estrada's teen daughter, Cristina, told NBC Chicago. "He was just a good person, a father. He was always there for us. He just wanted us to succeed in life."

Others noted Estrada's dedication to assisting Latino members in the community with legal questions and translation in court. He's also credited with starting the Festival Azteca in suburban Maywood.

"There's nothing about this that isn't heartbreaking," Dart said.

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