CHICAGO — Authorities released more information Tuesday about the arrest of a man found with weapons in a hotel room overlooking Chicago’s lakefront on July Fourth.
Keegan Casteel, 32, of Ankeny, Iowa was arrested Sunday at the W Hotel in the 600 Block of North Lake Shore Drive.
A member of the housekeeping staff saw the weapons and alerted police.
“This employee saw something by entering the room to clean it that likely prevented a tragedy from happening,” Chicago police Supt. David Brown said at a news conference Tuesday. “So it’s significant – and very valuable. A lot of praise for that employee for making us aware so we could act quickly and potentially avoid a tragedy.”
Chicago police found a .308 caliber rifle, a high-powered scope, a semi-automatic handgun as well as 5 rifle magazines placed along a windowsill.
The rifle did not have a visible serial number.
Police arrested 32-year-old Casteel of Iowa who’s now facing two felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Authorities said his wife was also with him.
“There’s no previous history of this person nor any issues in federal databases,” Brown said. “But obviously it’s very concerning given the position of the W Hotel to Navy Pier.”
Police and hotel employees have been on alert for armed guests since 2017 when a gunman used a suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas as a perch from which to kill 60 and injure hundreds more attending a country music concert below. That case hit close to home after it was revealed the gunman had months-earlier rented a room at a hotel overlooking Grant Park the weekend of Lollapalooza. He never checked-in for unknown reasons.
Casteel is from Ankeny, Iowa where he operates an auto body repair shop and is the father of two young kids.
A Cook County judge said while he had a license to own and carry guns in Iowa, “Clearly, we’re not in Iowa” and he shouldn’t have brought the weaponry to Chicago.
“Our Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed this person along with his companion and we are continuing our investigation,” Brown said.
If police and prosecutors have information to suggest Casteel had sinister motives, they haven’t released it.
The judge said Casteel can be released on $10,000 bond. He can return to Iowa but has to come back to Chicago for all court hearings. Chicago police will keep the guns in their custody.
Casteel’s next hearing set for July 14.