The Big Story Blog

Alleged shooter's lawyer: 'Can't believe he had a gun'

Posted at 3:27 PM on December 16, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Public Safety

John Lillie, attorney for accused Cook County courthouse shooter Daniel Schlienz, spoke this afternoon to Tom Crann, host of All Things Considered on MPR News.

Below are excerpts of the interview.
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After the jury rendered their verdict, they had set aside a conference room for me to use for the week since I was up there and obviously not from there. And we just went back there to talk about the verdict and what it meant and different options that he would have. We talked maybe five minutes I would say. We were just talking and then his mother had asked me a question and I was talking with her and Mr. S just got up and left. Just walked out of the conference room.

He just got up. (didn't say anything) And I just, I assumed it could've been a variety of reasons. He wanted to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, wanted to clear his head, who knows.

He didn't seem anything out of the ordinary and I you know continued to talk with the mother for not too long maybe a minute, a minute and a half at best, and just heard a loud bang, and I don't know why but it seems to me it sounded like someone had a watch in their hand and then banged it against a wall, a solid object. And it startled me at first, but then I realized this is too much of a coincidence. It can't be that. And I started to stand up and then heard some yelling and screaming.

I couldn't hear what it was about. I could just hear it, and my fear was he was getting in a fight with somebody or something was happening, it was a fistfight.

Then just when I was getting ready to open the door, I heard another bang, and realized it wasn't you know a fistfight, it was an actual gunshot, and then as I opened the door, he had gone past me with the gun in his hand into the county attorney's office.
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He was upset with the way that things were handled in that, like a lot of criminal defendants, a lot of them feel it's more personal. They feel that the county attorney or whoever's prosecuting them is taking this personally and not realizing that that's their job, but nothing out of the ordinary. He didn't seem any different than any other client as far as feeling that you know this is someone's out to get him or something, but nothing severe or extreme, anything like that.
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Right when I opened my conference room door, he had already gone past and gone to the county attorney's door. And just at that same instant, the baliff came out of the courtroom and the gentleman who was shot in the stairwell was screaming, 'I've been shot. I need help.' The balliff and Mr. S's mother ran in after him and I ran down to get the person that was shot on the stairwell.
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It wasn't a high, high level felony. He had no violent history. He'd already done a year in jail on this earlier. The case was five, six years old. He'd been out on a supervised release the whole time the case was pending and had no issues.

I would've been surprised if he would've been put into custody with no real significant criminal history and no violent criminal history whatsoever.
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What happened is after I took the first person who was shot outside, I came back in and eventually the county attorney was upstairs. He had managed to get out of the office and he was laying down and I tried to help him as best I could, get him, sit him up, try to do everything I could with him, put a belt around his leg to be a tourniquet and doing what I could to try to stop bleeding. Eventually the county sheriff, one of the county sheriffs arrived, and then all the paramedics and the county sheriffs came.

But somehow between the baliff and Mr. Schlienz's mother and the assistant county attorney, they somehow were able to get the gun away and subdue him. How they did it, I don't know, but that must've been harrowing because that's a small little office with all those people in there, especially with him with a gun.

I'm still kind of decompressing it or it just, this stuff doesn't happen. It still seems like just a bad B movie, you know, just I can't believe that he had a gun and that he went to this extreme and hopefully everybody's okay, but I still haven't processed it all the way. I mean after last night, interviewing and then doing everything else ... It's going to take a while, but hopefully everybody's okay. That's my biggest concern.

Thanks to MPR News reporter Madeleine Baran


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.