Mass shootings are an unfortunate thing, but many can be averted by people notifying the police if they see something that looks like someone planning a mass shooting.
However, there can be downsides as well. It can mean some people are suspected of being a mass shooter when they’re nothing for the sort.
That’s apparently what happened to one guy who visited Chicago not that long ago.
Now, the felony charges against him were dropped.
Prosecutors have dropped all felony charges against an Iowa man who was arrested in 2021 by Chicago police for having guns and ammunition in his hotel room overlooking the Chicago lakefront.
Cook County prosecutors dropped the felony charges against Keegan Casteel on Monday after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Police reports obtained by WGN Investigates show officers found a semi-automatic PTR-91 without a serial number, four additional rifle magazines with unknown amounts of ammunition near a window and a loaded handgun.
What they don’t show is any evidence of a potentially sinister plot as envisioned by the police superintendent and mayor.
Police video showed he told officers he “didn’t mean to startle anyone” and simply forgot to remove the firearms from a bag while packing for a trip to the city.
Casteel said he packed quickly and forgot his guns were in the bag.
Authorities said he may have planned an attack on Navy Pier. Well, he did have plans and they did involve Navy Pier. He planned on proposing to his girlfriend there.
This claim is bolstered by the fact that the police found a diamond ring when they searched his room.
I’m pretty sure Casteel doesn’t feel like he is even guilty of reckless conduct, but I see why he agreed to plead guilty to that. It gets this over with, keeps him from running up even more legal bills, and doesn’t stop him from owning guns going forward.
While he might have been completely exonerated at a trial, that would involve travel and expenses that now he doesn’t need to worry about.
As for what led to the situation, I don’t blame whoever was alarmed and notified the police. I can legitimately see why they reported it under the circumstances.
I blame the Chicago Police Department and then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot for their actions.
Casteel wasn’t planning any kind of attack. All he did was have guns–that were not illegal, mind you–in a place they didn’t think he should have had them.
That, in and of itself, isn’t breaking any laws, yet they not just treated him like a criminal, they spoke to the press as if he were one.
The problem with telling people to notify the authorities if they see something suspicious is that a lot of people know stuff like this can happen. They’re hesitant to say anything because they don’t want to jam up an innocent person, and the actions of those in Chicago just add to that.
If the police couldn’t investigate and see there was no actual plan, that Casteel wasn’t a mass shooter in the making, just a guy with some guns that he lawfully possessed, then that’s a law enforcement failure.