An off-duty Chicago police officer will face no charges for shooting his service pistol into Lake Michigan while drinking on an off-shore powerboat last week, but Wilmette police said information on the Oct. 9 incident has been passed along to the Chicago Police Department.
Wilmette police and a crew from the U.S. Coast Guard station at Wilmette Harbor responded to an area near the harbor mouth shortly after 9 p.m. Oct. 9, after a police officer patrolling in Gillson Park heard what he thought was repeated gunfire. Other people in the park area at the time also told the officer they’d heard several shots.
Police spotted a boat out some distance into the lake, heading into harbor. By that time the Coast Guard station also received gunfire reports and asked for Police Department assistance while a Coast Guard crew boarded the vessel.
Police said the boarding crew reported that both of the two men on board were too drunk to navigate the boat, and neither was at the wheel.
When police boarded the boat after it was secured, they found an unloaded Glock 17 pistol, a shotgun, two rifles, several hundred rounds of ammunition and a number of spent small caliber and shotgun shell casings.
They also found two coolers with beer and a half-empty vodka bottle.
One of the boat’s users, a 43-year-old man, identified himself as an off-duty Chicago officer and admitted shooting his duty pistol into the lake. He told Wilmette officers that he thought the boat was far enough off shore for that to be “OK.”
Wilmette police eventually determined that the incident took place past Wilmette’s three-mile off-shore jurisdiction. When they contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, which has jurisdiction to the middle of the lake, department representatives told them they would not press charges.
Both the officer and his companion, a 29-year-old man whose father was the boat’s registered owner, were released.
Wilmette police kept the guns and ammunition found on the boat, including the officer’s duty pistol.