SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois State Police confirmed on Wednesday that Darion Lafayette never had a FOID card. The new detail sheds light on the ongoing investigation into a fatal shooting with police last week.
Even if Lafayette had obtained a FOID card, a state police spokesperson said his three prior felony convictions in 2017, 2019, and 2020 would have made it illegal for him him to own a gun. Authorities continue investigating how a gun came into Lafayette’s possession.
Officer Chris Oberheim died after a shootout with Lafayette on May 19th. Officer Jeffrey Creel was also injured that morning. The two officers were responding to a domestic violence call. Police have not yet released body camera video footage of the incident.
Several laws on the books in Illinois are designed to remove firearms from the hands of domestic abusers. In addition to laws that prohibit convicted felons from legally owning firearms, the state’s 2018 red flag laws would add another layer of protections. Courts now have the power to authorize authorities to seize guns from people if a victim files an order of protection and can demonstrate that their abuser poses a threat to themselves or others.
State lawmakers are considering expanding red flag laws to include ammunition, too.
“It’s really meant to get the lethal means away from a person in crisis, who’s exhibiting dangerous behavior, either self-harm or harm to others,” Representative Denyse Stoneback (D-Skokie) said.
Stoneback’s proposal would increase restrictions in the red flag laws. She also wants to spread the word more about them. She says the protections have been very underused so far.
“In over two years, less than 60 petitions were filed for firearms restraining orders,” Stoneback said. “And so we wanted to make sure that the general public and law enforcement especially were aware that have this tool in their toolbox.”
Removing weapons from the hands of serial abusers might also offer indirect protections for police officers. Responding to domestic violence calls are often dangerous situations for police officers. Federal crime statistics show 31 officers have been killed on this job this year alone in the U.S. Out of those 31, four were killed while responding to domestic violence calls. Oberheim would be the fifth.
Experts say the unpredictability of those situations makes them risky.
“When someone’s trying to assist in situations like this that they really have no control over it,” Sojourn Shelter CEO Angela Bertoni said. “We can’t control another person, and unfortunately, they have to try their best to not only protect the person that they went there to assist but also themselves.”
Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) passed the red flag laws in 2018. Her daughter is a police officer. She knows how dangerous these situations can be for everyone involved.
“They’re never sure if the person is going to turn on them, the person that is being beaten up by a spouse, that could suddenly turn on the police officer also,” Willis said.
She also said it’s much more difficult to prevent these cases when it involves an illegal gun.
“Wish there was a way we could stop that and the only way we can stop illegal firearms is if we go with federal laws that can stop those pipelines,” Willis said. “We continue to have a pipeline of illegal guns coming over the border from Indiana and Kentucky into the state of Illinois. And until everybody follows the same rules it’s going to be very difficult to stop that.”