The March 22 shooting inside Mickey’s Massive Burritos in La Salle was quickly deemed an accident; but prosecutors decided Wednesday it was also a reckless act.
Richard J. Venegas, 63, of La Salle, was charged with reckless conduct resulting in great bodily harm, a Class 4 felony carrying one to three years in prison. The penalty range includes multiple sentencing alternatives including probation, community service and county jail time.
Court dates are pending in La Salle County Circuit Court. The case is assigned to Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia.
According to the criminal information filed Wednesday, Richard J. Venegas “in a reckless manner, caused great bodily harm to” to a 65-year-old man.
Richard J. Venegas, the complaint states, “handled a loaded firearm that was equipped with a safety mechanism that was not engaged while pointing the firearm at (the victim), even after (the victim) attempted to direct the firearm in another direction, and ejected and reinserted the loaded magazine and pulled the trigger, causing (the victim) to be shot in the leg.”
Details in the case were slow to emerge, as the investigation spanned several days. La Salle police said previously the then-unidentified victim was transported to and remains in a level 1 trauma center.
The victim’s condition has “somewhat improved” in the week since the shooting, La Salle Police Chief Mike Smudzinski said in a Wednesday update, and, “We’re hoping he makes a full recovery.”
La Salle County State’s Attorney Joe Navarro said the injury was “extremely life-threatening.”
“Based on the current condition of the victim, a Class 4 felony for recklessness is warranted,” Navarro said. “If the victim’s condition worsens, the situation could be revisited and charges reviewed.”