Shooting Inside Hotel Leaves One Dead and Several Wounded

BLOOMINGDALE, ILLINOIS — As concealed carriers, we like to be in control of our environment to the greatest extent possible; however, if you stay in a hotel you have only the walls and a door to separate you from anyone inside who may have a gun. An overnight armed altercation in a Chicago suburban hotel has left one person dead and several others injured.

According to Bloomingdale Public Safety Director Frank Giammarese, investigators are still trying to determine the chain of events that unfolded. He said that the shooting took place during “some type of large get-together” and that it “appears that there were a couple of different groups attending different events at the hotel” when “something transpired and that’s when the shooting took place, mostly in the hallways at the hotel.”

When officers arrived on the scene in response to a report of shots fired on the fifth floor, they found people fleeing the hotel. Once inside, they found “multiple apparent gunshot victims”, according to a press release.  As many as six people were wounded, and it is possible that more injured may have left the scene, including one or more suspects. James McGill Jr., 27, of Chicago, was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Giammarese added that there have been “ongoing concerns” about recent large gatherings at the hotel, which is located about 30 miles west of downtown Chicago and features over 7,000 square feet of event space and 300 newly renovated rooms.

In most states that have a Castle Doctrine, the law treats a hotel room just as it does your normal domicile, and you have the right to defend yourself. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to defend yourself against unseen shooters and stray rounds that may enter your room through walls, windows, doors, or even floors or ceilings. Hallways, stairwells, elevators, lobbies, meeting rooms, restaurants, parking garages and outdoor areas are also potential trouble areas, each with their own self-defense challenges.

After hundreds of nights of regular overnight stays in hotels over the past four decades, this author prefers a room on the second floor, near a stairwell, with his vehicle as close as possible and preferably visible from the room. The usual layout atop the nightstand includes pepper spray, a snub nose .38 Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver and full-size .45 Glock 21 pistol with four 13-round mags, a high intensity flashlight, and fully charged cellphone. A portable combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm and a portable door alarm are also deployed before going to sleep, with a window punch within reach if an unsafe situation in the hallway requires an emergency exterior escape.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what part of town it’s in, how much it costs per night, or how many ‘stars’ it has, it’s still a room in a building accessible to dozens of strangers from every walk of life, and your ability to practice situational awareness is extremely limited by the same walls and doors that you depend on to keep you safe.  

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