Iowa man held for weapons found at Chicago hotel near beach

CHICAGO — An Iowa man was in custody in Chicago on Tuesday after police found a rifle with a laser sight in a hotel room that overlooks a Lake Michigan beach during the July 4th holiday weekend.

Authorities say a member of the cleaning staff at the W Hotel told police on Sunday they observed the rifle, a handgun and ammunition in the room held by Keegan Casteel, 32. The weapons were found on a 12th floor window sill. The window had a view of Ohio Street Beach and Navy Pier, a major tourist attraction.

Casteel of Ankeny, Iowa, was arrested at the hotel and faces two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. A Cook County judge on Tuesday ordered him held in lieu of $10,000 bond.

“I understand through the state’s proffer and your attorney that you have permission to possess the firearms in the state of Iowa,” Judge David Navarro said during a Tuesday hearing. “However, clearly, we’re not in Iowa.”

Police Superintendent David Brown says the hotel staff member should be praised for alerting police.

“This employee saw something by entering a room to clean it that likely prevented a tragedy from happening,” Brown said Tuesday.

Brown noted Casteel didn’t have a criminal history. And the lawyer representing him during Tuesday’s hearing said Casteel has two children and works as an auto mechanic.

“Our joint terrorism task force officers debriefed, interviewed this person along with a companion, and we are continuing this investigation,” the superintendent said.

Brown did not say if investigators had determined why the man had the guns in his hotel room.