A Chicago-area homeowner protected his family by shooting an intruder but was charged with violating a local ordinance banning possession of handguns.
Wilmette, Ill., Police Chief George Carpenter believes charges against Hale DeMar, 54, underscore the suburban village’s serious concerns about the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“The outcome of the matter in this case was very fortunate for the homeowner,” he said. “We much prefer, for the safety of the home, that a resident who finds himself in this situation immediately lock the door of the room he’s in and dial 911.”
DeMar also is charged with violating state law by failing to renew his Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card after it expired in 1988, the Tribune said.
Morio Billings, 31, is accused of entering the DeMar home twice within 24 hours. He allegedly crawled through a dog door in the garage then returned with a stolen house key.
Prosecutors say Billings crashed through the home’s front window after he was shot then drove himself to the hospital in the family’s SUV, which he had stolen the night before.
Billings, convicted last year of a similar home burglary in an affluent Minneapolis suburb, is now in the Cook County Jail with bail set at $3 million.
Police said DeMar shot Billings in the shoulder and calf at about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 29 in the kitchen of his home.
DeMar, a restaurant owner, faces up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine or court supervision or probation if convicted on the charge of owning a handgun without a valid firearms card. The village’s handgun ordinance carries a separate fine of up to $750.
He is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 6 to face both charges.
The Tribune said the case has prompted dozens of people from out-of-state to contact village officials with complaints about DeMar’s treatment.
Chief Carpenter insists local residents have responded favorably, however.
“Wilmette residents are much safer without a handgun in their homes,” he told the Tribune. “We see handguns stolen, used in domestic arguments or suicides. Those are far more likely outcomes than when you would actually need a handgun to defend yourself.”
Carpenter said he regrets “the intrusion on this family’s privacy.”
“He strikes us as being a good man with a good heart who did something that apparently came naturally to him,” he said of DeMar. ‘That’s why it’s important the Wilmette police speak out now.”
The Tribune noted the city of Chicago and a number of other municipalities in the area also ban possession of handguns.
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told the Tribune he believes handgun bans are outrageous.
“The right to self-defense is the right that all creatures on this Earth have, including Wilmette,” he said. “What they do is they make the citizens in these villages and towns fair game.”