Keegan Casteel, of Ankeny, Iowa, was arrested during the Fourth of July weekend after an employee at the W Hotel said they found a gun and multiple magazines laid out on a bed in a room.
The room overlooked Ohio Street Beach and Lake Shore Drive. Police discovered a .308 caliber-rifle, equipped with a laser and high-powered scope, along with five ammo magazines and a handgun.
Footage shows Casteel in the hallway, explaining himself to an officer.
“I had a permit. I thought it was conceal carry,” Casteel said. “They were in the side pockets – really steep side pockets. There’s a lot that I usually have in there. I got most of everything out. But the gun is usually in the back.”
Later in the interview room, Casteel explained that he has a concealed carry permit in Iowa and accidentally forgot to unpack the gun and ammo before he left, saying he took them out in the hotel room so he could use the bag at the beach.
“I didn’t expect anything to happen. I just left them there for the day, went to the beach, came back, went shopping,” Casteel said.
The discovery was startling because of the hotel room’s elevated position over a public gathering spot, raising speculation that it was a “sinister plot” like when a gunman killed several people at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Casteel told officers he was actually in Chicago for love, not evil.
“It’s my fault. I didn’t mean to startle anyone. I understand 100 percent why I’m here. But like I said, it’s an honest-to-God accident,” Casteel said. “My plan was to go on a carousel and ask her at the top of the carousel.”
Once he got out of the police station, he proposed to his girlfriend.
Supt. Brown and Mayor Lightfoot had harsh words for Casteel at the time of his arrest, hailing the hotel employee as a “hero.”
Casteel had to surrender his weapons to Chicago Police Department and was charged with two felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of loaded weapons. His attorney said his client is licensed to have the guns and was merely exercising his Second Amendment rights. He suggested the weapons made Casteel feel safer in Chicago.
“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.”
Casteel has been released on $10,000 bond after a judge reminded him that gun laws in Chicago are different than in Iowa.