ANATOMY OF AN ARMED ROBBERY - "I want to carry a concealed weapon'

DeWayne Bartels

Burt was seated at his desk talking to a client when he heard something that did not sound right to him.

“I got up to go see what was happening. My client got up, came toward me with his hands up and said gently, ‘Quiet.’”

Burt stayed quiet.

Burt, however, has not been quiet since. He quickly learned as he heard the sound of the front door being slammed, his office had just been robbed. It was an ordinary mid-April day, turned upside down when a 13-year-old male with a BB gun stuck it in Burt’s secretary’s face.

Burt wants harsh justice for the suspect.

“When you decide to stick a gun in someone’s face, in my view, is the moment you become an adult,” Burt said.

But, justice, if any is to come, is on hold, which is stoking Burt’s anger.

Angry at system

Burt comforted Sally, his secretary, and called 911 in the immediate aftermath of the robbery.

Officers, from both the city and county, arrived within two minutes. A few minutes later, Burt was told a suspect was in custody.

Burt and Sally were taken a few blocks away to see if she could ID the suspect. 

Sally said she identified his clothes. She said she identified the bandana he used to cover his face.

Sally said she identified the gun he was found carrying.

Burt was consumed with anger at the youth. But, a few days later, his anger found a different target.

Burt said he and Sally assumed the suspect was headed to jail to be charged. Burt said that assumption was wrong.

“We found out a couple of days later he was released despite the ID,” Burt said.

“This BS wouldn’t happen if we had the judicial system and law enforcement system we should have. This makes me angry.”

Burt said this situation has shaken his faith in law-enforcement.

“How can anyone believe in the system?” he asked.

“In Peoria, there’s nothing but finger-pointing. The state’s attorney points at the police as the problem. The police point at (Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin) Lyons as the problem. And the victims are caught in the middle.”

More guns needed

Burt said his office door is now locked. He said that is no way to run a business, but it is the option he is left.

“I want the right to carry a concealed weapon. That would be a deterrent,” he said.

“If the criminals knew we had the right to carry concealed weapons I don’t think we’d have to lock our doors.”

But, Burt’s anger is not aimed just at elements of the police and judiciary.

“People need to wake up and get angry,” Burt said. “We have to demand more from our politicians and public servants. Otherwise, we just have to live with this. So many people in society are too afraid to do or say anything.”

Burt said nothing is going to change until the people demand results.

He said the police probably consider him a “pain in the a**”  and he will remain one.

Burt said he has been in touch with assistant police chief Phil Korem, Lt. Vince Wieland, the city council and interim city manager Henry Holling.

Asked if that has brought him any satisfaction brought a disgusted look to Burt’s face.

“I talked to the city manager about this. He expressed concern. He said he was going to talk to the assistant chief that night. Here it is a week later and I still haven’t heard from Holling,” Burt said.

“It seems as if all the information we have given them means nothing. I am not going to give up. I think they all hope I’ll just give up and go away. That’s not going too happen.”

Burt said he wants an investigation by a detective who cares. He said the detective who came to his office seemed less than interested. Burt wants an arrest and a day in court.

“But, realistically,” Burt said, “I expect very little to come from this.”