The man who was caught with a gun near Sen. Barack Obama’s South Side home told police officers he wanted to speak with the presidential hopeful about getting a job, prosecutors said in court Wednesday.
Omhari Sengstacke, the 31-year-old grandson of late Chicago Defender publisher John Sengstacke, was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bail during the hearing.
The convicted felon twice approached officers conducting security detail near the senator’s Kenwood neighborhood home at 5 a.m. Tuesday, telling them he needed to speak with Obama about getting a job, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said.
Sengstacke was asked to leave the premises. He went back to his BMW, and then approached the officers a third time, saying he needed to go to Obama’s campaign office, said Antonietti, adding that the block has concrete barriers.
When police searched his car, they found a .40-caliber semi-automatic weapon, a bulletproof vest and ammunition, Antonietti said.
Sengstacke was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and criminal trespassing to state land, police said.
Sengstacke did not make any threats against Obama, according to the Secret Service.
Some of Sengstacke's family members said in a statement that he wasn’t attempting to harm the Obamas, adding that they reside in the area and are supporters of the candidate. Sengstacke has three children and has completed one year of college, according to court testimony.
Obama was home at the time of Tuesday’s arrest, but flew to Florida later in the morning.
Sengstacke has a 2004 theft conviction for stealing a cell phone and a 2006 forgery conviction for trying to buy clothing with a fake traveler’s check. He received probation for both offenses.
Sengstacke’s grandfather, John Sengstacke, was publisher of the Defender for decades until his death in 1997. Omhari Sengstacke visited the White House in 2001 to witness his grandfather posthumously receive the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton.
The Defender, founded in 1905, once boasted a circulation of about 250,000 and was credited with starting the migration of blacks to the North. But the paper’s daily circulation slid to about 25,000 by the time of Sengstacke’s death. A company controlled by one of John Sengstacke’s nephews took over the paper in 2003.