DIXON – The Sterling 15-year-old accused of flashing a loaded handgun at the Petunia Festival on the Fourth of July is facing four felony weapons charges.
The boy, whom Lee County Court Judge Theresa Friel-Draper ordered not be identified by Sauk Valley Media, is charged with three counts of unlawful use of a weapon and one of possession of a firearm by a person younger than 18.
If convicted of the first two, which involve having the weapon on school grounds (the Petunia Festival carnival was set up at Dixon High School), he could be detained with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for 2 to 5 years; unlawful use of a weapon at a public gathering and the possession charge each carry potential detention of 1 to 3 years.
He also faces four misdemeanor counts: unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of a firearm without a FOID card, possession of firearm ammunition without a FOID card, and aggravated assault, which stems from a verbal threat investigators said he made to another boy. All carry a potential 30 days in a juvenile detention center.
The 15-year-old, who made an initial appearance this afternoon, will be on home confinement and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet while his case proceeds.
According to testimony from Detective Lincoln Sharp, lead investigator:
Around 8:10 p.m., Dixon police officers on bikes, who were patrolling the Petunia Festival, were approached by a person who said that a group of juveniles was starting fights with people, and that they had “jumped his friend” and had “pistol-whipped” him.
Twenty minutes later, as officers were looking for the group, they were notified of a fight at the carnival entrance. A teen boy told them that another boy flashed a gun he had in his waistband and said “Don’t mess with me or you are going to get smoked.”
Shortly after that, officers stopped two boys who matched the description, told them to put their hands up and found that one was carrying brass knuckles, and the other had a revolver loaded with six .32-caliber rounds tucked into his pants.
The boy with the gun was taken into custody, and during the interview, told officers he bought it the day before for self-defense because another group of juveniles also at the carnival had been bothering him and his friends.
It appears the gun actually may have been stolen from a vehicle in Rock Falls; that investigation is continuing, Sharp testified.
There were reports of others at the carnival with guns, which prompted Dixon police to evacuate the Peoria Avenue Bridge that night, but no other suspects were found, police said.
The boy was released to his mother Wednesday after the hearing. He will live with her and his grandmother at his grandmother’s house, his mother testified.
Darla A. Foulker was appointed to represent him. Loryn Scott is the assistant state’s attorney who is handling the prosecution.
His next hearing is July 26.
This is not the boy’s first brush with the law. He has a pending Whiteside County Court case, filed in late 2019 or early 2020, in which he is accused of getting into a fight at Challand Middle School with another student. According to his mother, her son saw another boy hit a girl and stepped in.