Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Wilmette, Illinois

From the Chicago Tribune of December 31, 2003

(Requires Registration)

Wilmette man shoots intruder in his home

Hours after an intruder used the dog door of a Wilmette home to steal a set of keys and a BMW sports-utility vehicle, the homeowner shot a man he confronted inside the house, authorities said Tuesday.

After being hit twice Monday, the suspect plunged through a front window of the home and escaped, but he was caught a short time later when he drove the stolen SUV to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston seeking treatment for his wounds, police said.

Morio Billings, 31, of the 2100 block of South Trumbull Avenue in Chicago, was charged Tuesday night with two counts of felony residential burglary and one count of felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, said John Gorman, spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Billings, who was shot in the left shoulder and left calf, remained hospitalized after surgery, Gorman said. His condition was described as non-life-threatening.

Billings was shot by Hale DeMar, 54, who was home in the 0-99 block of Linden Avenue with his wife and two children when Billings used a key to enter the house, authorities said.

Police would not say whether Billings is suspected in the first burglary when the keys were stolen from DeMar's house. That incident occurred between 11 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday.

"At this point our hearts go out to the residents that suffered this trauma," said Wilmette police spokesman Roger Ockrim.


DeMar is barred from owning a handgun by village ordinance. Ockrim did not know whether DeMar would be charged with any violations.

But he said, "The primary issue is someone has been burglarized and someone has been shot." Ockrim described DeMar as "understandably upset."

Police said they will investigate whether the shooting was in self-defense. The state statute dealing with such shootings is open to interpretation, said police and officials with the state's attorney's office.

"There's the letter of the law and the flavor of the law," Ockrim said. "You can't make a blanket statement until you've conducted an investigation."


Wilmette Village Trustee Beth Lambrecht predicted the firearms ban will be discussed at a future Village Board meeting, either to reconsider the ban or to remind the public of it.

She said using a gun to chase off a burglar is "very risky."

Another trustee said he didn't think the incident would lead to a change in the handgun ban.

"It wouldn't from my viewpoint," said Trustee James Griffith. "But I'm glad the guy had a gun."

UPDATE ( "Wilmette police say a homeowner who shot an intruder during a break-in will not be charged with violating the affluent Chicago suburb's handgun ban."

The authorities' collective positions on their handgun ban, and this homeowner's actions is the quintessence of incoherence.

FURTHER UPDATE (Chicago Tribune): "A Wilmette homeowner who shot and wounded an intruder was charged today with violating the north suburb's ordinance banning handgun ownership."

"If convicted, Hale DeMar, 54, faces a fine of up to $750."


"DeMar also is accused of failing to renew his Illinois Firearm Ownership Identification card when it expired in 1988, a Class A misdemeanor."

"Violation of the firearm registration law carries penalties of up to one year in jail, a $2,500 fine or court supervision or probation."

Perhaps someday Chicago will join the rest of the country.

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