Employee ‘Likely Prevented a Tragedy' in Reporting Guest's Rifle at W Hotel

NBC Universal, Inc.

A W Hotel employee "likely prevented a tragedy" when he reported a rifle pointed in "a very suspicious position" inside a guest's room overlooking a busy Chicago lakefront on Fourth of July.

According to police, the 41-year-old employee at the hotel, located in the 600 block of N. Lake Shore Drive, reported to officers that a 32-year-old man had a rifle inside a hotel room.

"We had reports from an employee of the hotel of a rifle and handgun in a very suspicious position inside one of the rooms," Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said Tuesday.

Officers responded and found a handgun, along with the rifle, and rifle magazines on the windowsill of the room.

"Obviously very concerning given the position of W Hotel to Navy Pier," Brown said.

Keegan Casteel, 32, of Ankeny, Iowa, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of a loaded weapon without a FOID card Sunday evening.

Casteel's room was located on the 12th floor, high above a very crowded Ohio Street Beach.

Police said they are tracing both the rifle and the handgun, but Casteel has no criminal history and admitted to officers he had the weapons before they entered his room. He has a valid gun permit in Iowa, but not a valid FOID card in Illinois.

Casteel was taken into custody without incident, according to authorities, though his motive remains unclear.

An investigation remains ongoing, Brown said, with a joint terrorism task force investigating.

Authorities praised the housekeeper who reported the weapons.

"This employee saw something by entering the room to clean it that likely prevented a tragedy from happening," Brown said. "So it’s significant and very valuable and we ought to heed a lot of praise on that employee for being aware and letting us know so we can react quickly and potentially avoid a tragedy."

Casteel's bond was set at $10,000 Tuesday and he is next expected to appear in court on July 14.

Contact Us