Lawyer: Iowa man in Chicago to propose, not criminal conduct

CHICAGO — A lawyer for an Iowa man arrested in Chicago for having guns and ammunition in his hotel room said Wednesday his client was in the city to propose to his girlfriend, not to launch a mass attack.

Jonathan Brayman said the baseless accusation against Keegan Casteel by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown spurred sensational media coverage despite the lack of evidence Casteel had ill intent.

Authorities say a member of the cleaning staff at the W Hotel told police they observed a loaded semi-automatic rifle with a laser scope, five ammunition clips and a loaded .45-caliber handgun in the room held by Casteel, 32, of Ankeny, Iowa on July 4. 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.

Brayman said his client is licensed to have the guns, and was merely exercising his Second Amendment rights. They suggested the weapons made Casteel feel safer in a crime-ridden city.

“The fact that good people feel the need to arm themselves when traveling to Chicago is the real problem that our public officials need to address,” he said. “In Mr. Casteel’s case, there was nothing nefarious afoot.”

Both Lightfoot and Brown have said Casteel may have intended to fire on Navy Pier crowds from his hotel window, though prosecutors have yet to offer any proof of such plans.

Casteel has so far been charged with two felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, though prosecutors said Wednesday a grand jury will review the case.

Casteel has been released on $10,000 bond after a judge reminded him that gun laws in Chicago are different than in Iowa.