Man could face federal charges, officer escapes injury after a shot is fired — (Pioneer Local)

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Pioneer Local

BASEY MOFFITT, STAFF WRITER

Police seize ‘weapons of war’

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are testing a cache of weapons seized from a Wheeling home in the early hours of July 19 to see if federal charges can be brought against a man arrested by local police that day.

Wheeling police arrested Gregory A. Banks, 43, of 496 Isa Drive, and charged him with aggravated discharge of a weapon and reckless discharge of a weapon after police said Banks fired an AK-47 at a police officer.

Officer James Theberge arrived at Banks’ home at 1:57 a.m. July 19 after a female resident of the home called police to report a disturbance, said John Stone, Wheeling’s deputy police chief. Theberge said he saw Banks outside the home with an AK-47 assault rifle before the man went back inside. Theberge said a shot was then fired from the house, hitting the ground just feet away from him.

Theberge called for assistance and more officers surrounded the home, which is located less than a quarter mile away from Twain Elementary School’s entrance. Banks and three other people walked out of the house about 10 minutes after it was surrounded. Stone said Banks told police the gun went off “by accident.”

Police entered the home and pulled out nearly a dozen guns, ammunition, a variety of knives and stacks of fireworks. Police also found phony badges, a gas mask, a ballistic helmet and a multitude of accessories for the guns, including a bayonet, a silencer and a shotgun hand stock.

The guns pulled from the home included an AK-47, a 12-gauge shotgun, two military style AR-15s, an Uzi-like M-11 and a Russian SKS assault rifle. Police also found other pistols and revolvers.

“(Banks) was using the weapons to scare the people of the house,” Stone said of the incident leading police to the scene. “There was some kind of dispute between Banks and the owner (of the home).”

Stone said Banks lives in the house, but he does not own it.

Banks was the only person arrested last week. He posted bond Wednesday, said a spokesman from the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office. He is scheduled to appear in court in Rolling Meadows Aug. 5.

Stone said Banks has a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card. All the guns can be possessed legally, Stone said, but altering them or accessorizing them with such things as bayonets or silencers can lead to federal gun charges.

“(Banks) said he bought them on the Internet,” Stone said. “We don’t know his motivation for having them.”

No federal charges had been filed against Banks as of Monday.

Stone described Banks as “dangerous,” given the amount and types of guns police found in his house.

“The last time I shot an AK-47 was in Vietnam, so that tells you what kind of weapons we’re dealing with,” Stone said. “These are weapons of war.”

Stone also said police believe Banks is on medication. Prescription pill containers found in the home had Banks’ name on the label and included antidepressants.