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Local News

Landlord who gunned down tenant in Lockport Township will face no charges: sheriff

The Will County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Joliet, Ill.
The Will County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Joliet, Ill.

A homeowner who shot and mortally wounded a tenant in a Lockport Township residence will not face criminal charges in connection with the incident — at least “at this time,” police said.

On Sunday, a 76-year-old homeowner shot and killed Patrick Bernotas, 36, at a residence in the 100 block of Pendleton Street following a quarrel over rent money, according to a Will County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The homeowner told investigators he “feared he was about to be battered” by Bernotas during the argument and shot his tenant once in the chest even though he was aiming for his shoulder, police said.

Numerous interviews were conducted with various people, the neighborhood was canvassed for potential witnesses, search warrants were executed and evidence was collected on scene, police said.

The homeowner called 911 after shooting Bernotas and deputies were told by dispatch that the he performed CPR on Bernotas, police said.

Bernotas was pronounced dead about 10:20 a.m. Sunday at the Silver Cross Hospital emergency room in New Lenox.

During the investigation, detectives learned from the homeowner that he got into a verbal argument with Bernotas over money he owed for back rent in the amount of $20,000 and the homeowner gave Bernotas a five-day eviction notice, according to police.

The eviction notice “enraged Bernotas” and he threatened to harm the homeowner, police said. The homeowner went into his bedroom in the lower level of the residence to avoid further conflict but the argument continued “through the partially closed door,” police said.

The homeowner took out his Taurus Judge revolver after fearing a physical altercation would occur, police said. When Bernotas swung open the door “in an aggressive manner,” the homeowner feared he was about to be battered and fired one round that struck Bernotas in the chest, police said.

Bernotas retreated to the stairs that led to his bedroom and collapsed on a couch in the living room, police said. The homeowner said he dialed 911 to report the incident and performed CPR on Bernotas, police said.

Bernotas’ death was the result of a close contact gunshot wound to the chest, police said.

The state’s attorney’s office reviewed the case and “elected not to charge the suspect with a crime at this time,” police said.

The residence where the incident occurred is in “deplorable conditions,” sheriff officials said.

“It is of the opinion of the Will County Sheriff’s Office that it is unfit for occupancy,” sheriff officials said.

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