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.

The Evanston Public Library’s main branch on Orrington Ave., where a man was arrested Monday afternoon after a confrontation with a library security guard. Credit: Bob Seidenberg

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 jsturges@cityofevanston.org

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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  1. The headline is wrong, is fear-based. What about a headline that moves us not away from but towards life and liberation?

    Such as:

    Has EPL learned lessons? No guns. De-escalation training a must.

    Where is the apology from the gun-carrying escalator?

  2. Anyone wishing to comment directly to the Library Board can sign up to do so (either in person or via Zoom) during public comment at the beginning of their Board meeting this Wednesday, January 18, at 6:30 p.m. You do have to sign up to comment and I think it’s limited to 3 minutes per person. Or you can show up to support other community members who may be commenting. The link to the meeting agenda below contains the Zoom link and signup link (you might have to copy and paste the link into your browser).

    https://www.epl.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Library-Board-Packet-20230118-1.pdf

  3. NO NO NO guns in the library. Really I was there when it all went down i was with my daughter and I’ve never seen such an unprofessional act from a safety monitor.
    I’ve been coming to this library for years ever since the McDonald’s was across the street.
    The guy was threatening the safety monitor at 1st but why didn’t he just call the police like all the other monitors. The guy on the floor became agitated by the monitor and so he then got up attacked him, embarrassed because he was getting treated like a rag doll he pulled out his gun, so when the other safety monitors are around do they also pull out their guns. I hope to God that this guy loses his job and if he doesn’t the woman that sits on her THRONE doing nothing all day on the 4th floor SHOULD. P.S NEVER COMING BACK.

  4. OMG.. I can’t believe what went down Monday afternoon at the Evanston Public Library. I was there with my three children, and we were all scared for our lives. My 2yr old has a phobia of guns and has not been able to sleep since this incident. This Safety Monitor has I later found out used very poor de-escalation skills and used very poor judgement on an un armed patron who clearly needed help, PLEASE DONT TELL ME THAT HE IS IN CHARGE OF SAFETY(lord help us all) because I did not feel safe I will never step foot in that library again and I will begin a petition that none of my friends or family do either.

  5. Commenting on the story and some of the other comments, I agree it was not appropriate for the guard to warn the man to leave if he was faking his back pain. Yes, responding paramedics might have discerned the genuineness of the man’s complaint – but might then also have wanted police aid. As for many social workers being smaller females who would be at a physical disadvantage against a male attacker, these ladies would be able to succeed if they had high-enough belts in one of the martial arts. Most probably don’t.

  6. De-escalation techniques don’t work against people at the point of throwing chairs. And I hate to bring up an unwelcome fact to so many Evanston ‘woke folk,’ but most social workers are FEMALE. As in, over 80% according to a general search. Just like teachers and nurses. The 3 social workers I know personally are over 40, female, around 5-5 or shorter, and wouldn’t stand a chance against this man who became violent. They’d call the cops.

    Did the cop ‘trigger’ him? Did he make unnecessary accusations? Perhaps, but aren’t adults responsible for their own behavior? A woman trying to de-escalate might have ‘triggered’ him, too. Reducing potentially violent situations with this gender-neutral language and focusing on mental health covers up the objective reality: Any staff social workers will likely be female. Problematic individuals will likely be men, and larger/stronger.

    I’m able bodied and strong, but I wouldn’t touch the situation of a large adult man lying on the floor. I’d call the cops. I’m super tired of Evanston discounting the practical voices of women and children when they try to address realistic community safety issues.

    1. Katie As a female social worker I wouldn’t bring brute force to subdue someone. I would bring years of experience dealing with crisis situations.

  7. This is a hard situation, and I’m just glad no one was seriously injured. I have friends who work (or have worked) in libraries, and I’ve heard so many stories from them about “Kobayashi Maru” scenarios involving mentally-ill or criminally-inclined patrons who disturb or threaten others. I think the quote from Ms. Sturges is right on. We want the library to be a place where everyone feels welcome to use resources, and where everyone feels safe. But what happens when some patrons make others feel unwelcome and unsafe?

  8. I was there during this incident! Terrifying and dangerous, the security guard chased this patron around for 10 mins pointing his gun. I believe this all could have been avoided, had the security guard not pressured the patron. The paramedics would have determined if he was lying or not. What are the policies for off duty cops working for the library and carrying his weapon?

  9. This comment makes zero sense:

    ‘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.‘

    It is DEEPLY disturbing that our library employs a security guard who carries a gun.

    1. I don’t understand them hiring the off duty cop as a security guard. Just hire the cop as a cop instead of trying to make the community feel better by saying he’s a “security guard”. He clearly isn’t if he’s allowed to carry a gun unlike the library security personnel.
      I am so tired of cops get special privilege… it’s not right or fair.
      Guess that’s life for you.

  10. Security guard should not have made comment if he fake illness he has to leave he should have waited for ambulance personnel, his comment was rude, because he is police officer enjoy making bullying scene..I was in skokie library complaining to manager there are too many homeless dragging suitcases sleeping snoring… she said all allowed cold to be in, suitcase to drag, tired nap happen, when sleep no control oneself & snore