Rural Dixon man accused of shooting 3 police officers denied release from jail

Had sought to stay with family in McHenry County

court gavel

OREGON – A rural Dixon man charged with the attempted murder of three police officers will remain in jail despite his attorney’s argument that he could be released with conditions as his case proceeds through the court system.

Jonathon Gounaris, 32, made his first appearance in Ogle County court Thursday afternoon. He is charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, three counts of aggravated battery and two counts of possession of a firearm without a firearm owner’s identification card.

Police allege that he shot three members of the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team after a three-hour standoff June 12 when police tried to enter a home in the 400 block of Wild Rice Lane in Lost Lake, a rural subdivision east of Dixon commonly referred to as Lost Nation.

Ogle County Deputy Lt. Jason Ketter was shot in the face and taken by air ambulance to OSF Medical Centger in Rockford, where he underwent surgery. He was released from the hospital June 14.

Sgt. Tad Dominski of the Oregon Police Department and Tyler Carls of the Rochelle Fire Department also were shot June 12. They were treated at KSB Hospital in Dixon and released later that evening.

The ERT is made up of individuals from agencies including the sheriff’s office, Oregon and Byron police departments, and SWAT medics from the Rochelle Fire Department.

To view body camera footage of the shootings, visit

Gounaris also was shot during the incident and was taken to KSB hospital in Dixon, where he was treated before being booked into the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford on June 18.

On Thursday, Gounaris was escorted into a courtroom at the Ogle County Judicial Center in Oregon for a detention hearing. In those hearings, a judge decides whether a defendant can be released from custody based on information presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Gounaris, wearing handcuffs, leg irons and a jumpsuit issued to inmates, walked without assistance to the defense table. He was escorted by two Winnebago County corrections officers and Ogle County sheriff’s deputies.

About a dozen deputies and police officers from the surrounding area stood in the back of the courtroom during the hearing.

Judge Anthony Peska appointed Ogle County Public Defender William Gibbs to represent Gounaris after reviewing a financial affidavit completed by the defendant.

In his argument to keep Gounaris in custody, Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten said the sheriff’s office received a call the morning of June 12 from Gounaris’ mother, who was crying and told police that her son had made suicidal and homicidal comments and had access to two guns. She left the home and waited with a deputy at the west gate of the subdivision as police were called to the home, Leisten said.

“She woke up at 2 a.m., and [Gounaris] was throwing and damaging things in the home,” Leisten told the court. “He was out of control. She could not handle this on her own.”

Leisten said the mother told police that her son had barricaded himself in the home and threatened to kill himself or anyone else who tried to talk to him. Leisten said she told authorities that her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and, in general, hated police.

Leisten also told the court that, according to the mother, Gounaris had “severe mental health issues” and had recently been stalking a woman in Woodridge whom he had become obsessed with.

“He sent that woman’s mother a photo of him holding a gun to his head,” Leisten told the court.

Leisten then read an account of the ERT’s attempts to enter the home and speak with Gounaris. When officers entered the home after the exchange of gunfire, Gounaris was found lying on the living room floor with “significant trauma to his lower abdomen” wearing body armor with a handgun, pepper spray and knife in close proximity.

“He told the officers, ‘Thank you, thank you. You got me good,’” Leisten told the court.

Leisten argued that Gounaris is a specific threat to law enforcement officers and should not be released under any conditions, citing dangers to the officers whom he already had wounded in addition to anyone else in the community.

“This was a very violent offense,” Leisten said. “He is unstable. He should not be released. He is still a threat.”

Gibbs argued that Leisten’s account of the incident included hearsay “three times removed,” and his client could be released with certain conditions.

“My client does apparently have mental issues,” Gibbs said. “It is my understanding he has not received treatment. If he is detained, he needs a mental health evaluation.”

Gibbs said Gounaris had family members living in McHenry County, and they had agreed that he could reside with them as his case proceeds through the court system.

“He could be ordered to stay with his family there,” Gibbs said.

Leisten disagreed, noting that he had not received any information to indicate any family members in McHenry County who would be willing to have him stay with them.

Peska said Leisten had presented “clear and convincing evidence” that the crimes had occurred, noting that Gounaris faces multiple attempted murder charges.

“There was a claim he would kill anyone who tried to talk to him,” Peska said, adding that family members and law enforcement officers could be in danger if he were to be released. “There’s law enforcement in McHenry County, too. I believe in this situation every attempt to try and talk him down went to no avail. There are no conditions to mitigate the risk.”

Peska told Gounaris that he could appeal his decision.

“Do you understand these admonishments?” Peska said.

“Yes, your honor,” Gounaris said.

Gounaris is scheduled to appear in court at 10 a.m. June 26.

A news release issued by Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock said attempted first-degree murder is a Class X felony punishable by a special sentence of 20 to 80 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections followed by three years of mandatory supervised release. Aggravated discharge of a firearm is a Class X felony punishable by a special sentence of 10 to 45 years in prison followed by three years of mandatory supervised release.

Aggravated battery also is a Class X felony punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison, and possession of a firearm without a FOID card is a Class 3 felony punishable by a sentence of two to five years in prison.

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Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.