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An employee at a Chicago hotel is being praised for potentially having prevented a mass shooting over the Fourth of July weekend.

According to CBS Chicago, the unidentified housekeeper at the W Chicago – Lakeshore—which overlooks Ohio Street Beach, Navy Pier and Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Gold Coast—entered a 12th-floor room to find a .308-caliber rifle with a scope and laser sight and a handgun “in a very suspicious position” along with five rifle magazines on a windowsill. The employee alerted police shortly before 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, leading to the arrest of 32-year-old Keegan Casteel of Ankeny, Iowa.


Casteel, who doesn’t have a Firearm Owners Identification card required to legally possess a gun in Illinois, was charged with two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He was released from custody on Wednesday after posting bond and will be allowed to return to Iowa while he awaits trial.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said the discovery was “obviously very concerning, considering the position of the W Hotel to Navy Pier.” The timing was also unnerving as the waterfront area was crowded with people preparing to watch the Independence Day fireworks.

“This was unique that we’re still within COVID restrictions somewhat, and this employee saw something by entering the room to clean it, that likely prevented a tragedy from happening,” said Brown. “So it’s significant and very valuable, and we ought to heap a lot of praise on that employee for being aware, and letting us know, so we could react quickly and potentially avoid a tragedy.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also commended the hotel employee for their awareness and speaking up.

“I want to thank the hotel worker who spotted this individual from Iowa who decided it was a good idea to come to our city with an arsenal, an AR-15, and five loaded magazines which he had perched up on the windowsill. Thank God for that hotel worker, who saw something, and said something, and I believe averted disaster,” Lightfoot said.

Casteel was interviewed by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is now on the FBI’s radar. “We have to make sure that this individual is somebody who is known to law enforcement not only here in Chicago, but back in Iowa where he came from,” the mayor added.

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