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Iowa man charged after allegedly bringing rifle with laser sight into downtown Chicago hotel overlooking Ohio Street Beach

The W Hotel, in the 600 block of North DuSable Lake Shore Drive, in 2016. (Nancy Stone/TNS)

A 32-year-old Iowa man who allegedly had a rifle with a laser sight in a hotel room overlooking Ohio Street Beach over the holiday weekend was ordered held on $10,000 bail Tuesday by a Cook County judge.

Keegan Casteel was arrested July 4 by Chicago police at the W Hotel, in the 600 block of North Lake Shore Drive, in possession of the rifle and a handgun, authorities said.

Chicago police were alerted to the firearms at about 6:45 p.m. by cleaning staff at the hotel who had entered the 12th-floor room and observed the rifle, authorities said.

Superintendent David Brown said at press briefing Tuesday that police were told the firearms were in a “very suspicious position” on a window sill inside one of the rooms.

“This employee saw something by entering a room to clean it that likely prevented a tragedy from happening,” Brown said Tuesday. “So it’s significant and very valuable and we ought … (to) praise that employee for being aware and letting us know so we could react quickly and potentially avoid tragedy.”

Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force were involved in the investigation, authorities said.

Casteel, of Ankeny, Iowa, was arrested at the hotel and faces two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He must post $1,000 — 10 percent of his $10,000 bail — to get out of Cook County Jail.

Judge David Navarro noted the concerning circumstances.

“The state describes you in possession in a hotel room of a rifle with a laser scope … overlooking Ohio Street Beach,” Navarro said, and then paused. “I understand through the state’s proffer and your attorney that you have permission to possess the firearms in the state of Iowa. However, clearly, we’re not in Iowa.”

In addition to the rifle, police also recovered several rifle magazines and a .45-caliber handgun, authorities said. Casteel has a permit to possess firearms in Iowa, and Cook County prosecutors asked that he surrender all of his gun licenses.

At a media event Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had harsh words for Casteel for allegedly bringing “weapons of war” into the city.

“Five loaded magazines, that’s not, ‘I’m going to the big city and I want to take my weapon,’ ” she said. “That’s something more nefarious.”

Lightfoot also praised the hotel worker who notified police.

“Thank God for that hotel worker who saw something and said something and I believe averted disaster,” she said, while also criticizing Casteel’s bond as too low.

Brown said Casteel did not have a criminal history. In court, Cook County prosecutors noted that he has only misdemeanors in his past.

Casteel has two children and works as an auto mechanic, authorities said in court.


© 2021 Chicago Tribune

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