Dixon man pleads not guilty to attempted murder of three Ogle County deputies

Johnathon Gounaris is escorted into a courtroom by Deputy Dan Daub for a  preliminary hearing at the Ogle County Judicial Center in Oregon on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. He is charged with attempted murder following a June 12 incident at a Lost Lake home in rural Dixon where three police officers were shot.

OREGON – A rural Dixon man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the attempted murder of three police officers during a June 12 shooting incident in his Lost Lake home.

Jonathon Gounaris, 32, through his attorney, Ogle County Public Defender William Gibbs, pleaded not guilty to 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.

Gounaris is charged with shooting three members of the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team after a three-hour standoff when police tried to enter his 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 Center in Rockford, where he underwent surgery. He was released from the hospital June 14.

Sgt. Tad Dominski of the Oregon Police Department was shot in the arm, and Tyler Carls of the Rochelle Fire Department was shot in the torso during the afternoon incident. 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.

Gounaris also was shot during the gunfire exchange 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 Wednesday, Gounaris appeared in court before Judge John Redington wearing handcuffs, leg irons and dressed in a yellow jumpsuit issued to inmates.

Johnathon Gounaris is escorted into a courtroom on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 for a preliminary hearing at the Ogle County Judicial Center in Oregon. He is charged with attempted murder following a June 12 incident at a Lost Lake home in rural Dixon where three police officers were shot.

Gibbs entered the not-guilty plea and jury demand for Gounaris and again asked that his client be released from custody in order to receive mental health treatment.

Gibbs told Redington that based on a mental health evaluation done at KSB Hospital in June, the evaluating doctors expressed a desire to place Gounaris in an inpatient treatment center. However, as he is currently in police custody, he is unable to be moved.

State’s Attorney Mike Rock and Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kruse asked that Gounaris remain in custody at the Winnebago County Jail based on their previous arguments during hearings June 20 and 26 that Gounaris is a specific threat to law enforcement officers, as well as anyone else in the community, and should not be released under any conditions.

Redington denied the request for release but set another hearing for 1:30 p.m. July 22. He also scheduled Gounaris’ next pretrial conference for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 26. Those hearings will be held in front of Judge John “Ben” Roe.

“I think [Gounaris] should be present at all court appearances,” Redington said.

Ogle County Judge John Redington presides over a hearing for Johnathon Gounaris on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at the Ogle County Judicial Center in Oregon.

Kruse presented Redington with seven subpoenas that the state would like to bring in front of Roe. Subpoenas are how attorneys gather evidence or witness testimony that is presented at a hearing.

Gibbs asserted that one of those subpoenas presented by the state is in relation to Gounaris’ mental health records from KSB and requested that the judge hold those records. Redington agreed to Gibbs’ request and signed the remaining six subpoenas. The six signed subpoenas now become a court order to provide documents or testimony regarding information requested, which will be presented during the next pretrial hearing Aug. 26.

Wednesday marks the third time that an Ogle County judge denied a defense request to release Gounaris from jail.

On June 20, Gounaris made his first court appearance for a detention hearing, where a judge decides whether a defendant can be released from custody based on information presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten argued that Gounaris should remain in custody.

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.

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. She told authorities that her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and, in general, hated police, Leisten told the court June 20.

Gibbs argued that his client could be released with certain conditions in order to receive mental health treatment. He added that Gounaris has family members living in McHenry County, and they had agreed that he could reside with them as his case proceeds through the court system.

Judge Anthony Peska denied Gounaris’ request to be released from custody, ruling that family members and all law enforcement officers could be in danger if he were to be released.

On June 26, Gounaris appeared before Redington. Kruse reiterated similar information that was presented to the court June 20, and Redington denied Gounaris’ release.

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Payton Felix

Payton Felix

Payton Felix reports on local news in the Sauk Valley for the Shaw Local News Network. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2023.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

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