The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office officially ruled on Monday that the death of the 17-year-old Grayslake boy, who was shot in the head before being trapped in a house fire in August, was a homicide.
On August 22, Grayslake police officers arrived on the scene of a house fire in the 400 block of Normandy Lane in Grayslake before the fire department and could hear the teenage boy, later identified as Zackary Bollam, 17, screaming for help from inside the house that was on fire. Three police officers helped rescue Zackary and brought him out the front door when firefighters were arriving, officials said.
All three police officers and the boy were injured and transported by ambulance to Advocate Condell Hospital in Libertyville. Zackary was then transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he died.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said on Monday that Zackary’s cause of death was from complications from the gunshot wound to the head. The report released also said that a secondary cause of death was “carbon monoxide intoxication and inhalation injuries due to the intentionally set house fire.”
It was learned later that the boy was shot in the head before the fire started. A .38-caliber pistol was recovered from the house later that morning on the day of the fire, police said.
Investigators took several statements from witnesses and the fire victims which led them to the boy’s 65-year-old grandmother, Deborah St. Antione-Browne, who also lived in the house.
Investigators then interviewed St. Antione-Browne while she was visiting Zackary at Loyola University Medical Center and obtained statements, fingerprints, and DNA from her. Two hours after that, Grayslake police were told by Cook County Sheriff’s Office that St. Antione-Browne killed herself at the hospital’s parking garage.
Authorities also said that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was told that before St. Antione-Browne killed herself, she gave her granddaughter a bottle of prescription medicine and told the girl to take it all. Officials said that the girl took some of the medicine but sought medical treatment at the hospital.
The granddaughter and Zackary both lived with St. Antione-Browne at the time of the house fire. Authorities said that the granddaughter is under DCFS care now.
In late September, the Grayslake Fire Protection District Board of Trustees and Fire Chief John Christian recognized the three police officers who risked their lives to save the boy.
“These three officers battled heavy smoke conditions inside the home to reach the victim and subsequently pull him out of the fire where he was transported to the hospital,” the Grayslake Fire Department posted on their Facebook page.