Sheriff Mike Kelley would like to announce that the suspect in the homicide that occurred on 07/12/2020 in Unincorporated Lockport Township will not be charged with a crime, at this time.
On 07/12/2020, at 9:36 A.M., Deputies with the Will County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the 100 block of Pendleton Street in Unincorporated Lockport Township in reference to a medical emergency involving a gunshot victim. Laraway Communications Center (LCC) advised responding deputies, that the person that dialed 911 was the person that shot the victim. LCC further advised that the suspect was currently performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on the victim.
Upon deputies arriving on scene, the suspect (age 76) was taken into custody, and the Lockport Township Fire Department transported the victim to a local area hospital. The victim, Patrick Bernotas (age 36), was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
Detectives and Crime Scene Investigators arrived on scene and began to conduct the investigation. The residence where the incident occurred is in deplorable conditions. It is of the opinion of the Will County Sheriff’s Office that it is unfit for occupancy.
Numerous interviews were conducted on various individuals, the neighborhood was canvassed for potential witnesses, search warrants were executed, and evidence was collected on scene.
Upon detectives interviewing the suspect, it was learned that Bernotas and the suspect got into a verbal argument over money owed for back rent, in the amount of $20,000. The suspect wrote up a five-day notice of eviction and gave the document to Bernotas. The suspect stated that this enraged Bernotas, and he threatened to harm 76-year-old suspect.
The suspect went into his bedroom, which is located on the lower level of the residence, as to avoid further conflict. The suspect stated that he closed his bedroom door, and the argument continued through the partially closed door.
The 76-year-old suspect was fearful that a physical altercation would occur, so he took out his loaded handgun which he stores in-between the cushion and an armrest of a chair. The suspect placed the revolver on top of the chair. The suspect stated that he heard Bernotas coming towards his room, so he picked up the revolver. The suspect stated that Bernotas swung open the door in an aggressive manner. The suspect, fearing that he was about to be battered, fired one round striking Bernotas in the chest. The suspect stated that he was aiming for Bernotas' shoulder.
The suspect stated that Bernotas retreated up the five stairs that lead to his bedroom, and Bernotas collapsed on a couch in the living room. The suspect stated that he then dialed 911 to report the incident, and began performing CPR on Bernotas shortly thereafter.
An autopsy was conducted on Patrick Bernotas on 07/13/2020 at the Will County Coroner’s Office. The victim died, as a result of a close contact gunshot wound to the chest. The suspect shot the victim with a Taurus Judge revolver, loaded with .410 shotgun shells and .45 Colt ammunition. The suspect fired one round of .410 birdshot at close range, striking Bernotas in the chest on his left side.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office assisted detectives in securing search warrants for the residence, as well as conducting a case review of the thorough investigation. After reviewing the case, the State’s Attorney’s Office elected not to charge the suspect with a crime at this time.
Items of evidentiary value will be sent to the crime lab for analysis, and the case will remain open until the results of those tests and the results of the autopsy are available and Will County Coroner’s reports are complete.