The Evanston Police Department identified the man arrested at the public library on Orrington Ave. Monday afternoon as 31-year-old Milton D. Altamirano-Sanchez of Chicago, according to Tuesday’s crime bulletin released publicly by EPD.
Altamirano-Sanchez was taken into custody Monday and charged in bond court Tuesday with aggravated battery of an off-duty police officer, EPD Commander Ryan Glew said.
According to the incident report and a statement from library staff, Altamirano-Sanchez was lying on the ground on the third floor of the Evanston Public Library main branch building on Monday, when a library security guard, who is also a police officer in another jurisdiction, spoke to him.
Altamirano-Sanchez said his back was hurting, and the security guard called an ambulance to provide medical assistance. At that point, the security guard told Altamirano-Sanchez that he was an off-duty police officer, and he needed to leave if he was faking an illness or injury.
Then, Altamirano-Sanchez got up and punched, kicked and threw a chair at the security guard multiple times, Glew told the RoundTable in a Tuesday phone call. During that attack, the security guard took out a gun “in defense of himself,” according to Glew.
Library staff called the police and safely evacuated the rest of the third floor where the confrontation took place, EPL Marketing and Communications Manager Jenette Sturges said.
The security guard was carrying a gun holstered on his waist in his capacity as an off-duty police officer, according to Sturges. Library security personnel do not carry firearms as part of their duties at the library, she said.
EPL has a contract with Ascension to provide a social worker on site at the library facility, but that position is currently vacant.
“I cannot speculate as to whether having a social worker present in this particular incident would have changed the outcome – to some degree that’s looking into a crystal ball,” Sturges said. “What I can say is that staff at all levels, including our safety team, are trained in de-escalation techniques to work with people who may be in crisis to produce the best possible outcomes for our patrons and the safety of our library.”
In bond court Tuesday, Altamirano-Sanchez said he is homeless, and he also admitted to knowing that the security guard was an off-duty police officer when he committed the battery, according to Glew. The court set his bond at $100,000.
“The library is a place for all members of our community to find resources and be engaged, and as such it must also be a place where all the members of our community can feel safe,” Sturges said. “We will be working with the Evanston Police Department to identify concrete steps we can take to prevent similar incidents and improve our response while also recognizing our unique role as a public library that welcomes and serves all of the people in our community.”
In the meantime, the police investigation into the incident remains ongoing while Altamirano-Sanchez remains held in custody on bond. Any questions you may have about the confrontation itself can be sent to EPD, while other inquiries about general safety and protocols at the library can be directed to Sturges at firstname.lastname@example.org.