Sheriff: 3 Ogle ERT members, barricaded individual shot after incident in Lost Nation

2 ERT members treated and released, 3rd expected to make full recovery, suspect undergoes surgery


LOST NATION — Three Ogle County Emergency Response Team members and one barricaded suspect were shot late Wednesday morning at a residence in Lost Nation in the rural Dixon area and survived after being transported to area hospitals, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon. 

The barricaded man was identified as Jonathon G. Gounaris in a Wednesday night press release. The names of the involved law enforcement officials have not been released. Two law enforcement officers were transported by ground to KSB Hospital in Dixon and were treated and released, VanVickle said later on in a phone interview. The third was flown to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford and went into surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. Gounaris was in surgery at KSB Wednesday afternoon and VanVickle said he was unsure of his condition.

The Ogle County Emergency Response Team is made up of individuals from different agencies including the Ogle County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon Police Department and the Byron Police Department as well as SWAT medics from the Rochelle Fire Department.

At approximately 8:39 a.m. Wednesday, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office received information from a family member of the suspect at 402 Wild Rice Lane in Lost Nation, who said that her son had threatened suicide and homicide. The Ogle County ERT was activated at 9:18 a.m. and a hostage negotiator arrived on scene and attempted to make contact with the individual. 

“The information we got from the family member was that this was very likely going to be suicide by cop-like situation,” VanVickle said. “There was nobody else in the residence. The family member that called was not at the residence. The suspect was in the residence by himself and we had that confirmed by the family member. We believed his intention was to harm police officers. That's the information the family member told us.”

The first call to Gounaris’ cell phone by the hostage negotiator was made at 10:40 a.m. and VanVickle said over 50 phone calls were made in various forms to the residence. All of them went unanswered, he said. Additional resources were provided into the home at 11:09 a.m. in an attempt to make contact with Gounaris with no success. 

“At 11:51 a.m. due to the lack of communication, it was determined that our emergency response team would enter the house and determine the well-being of that individual,” VanVickle said. “Immediately upon entering the house, our deputies received gunfire from inside the house.”

ERT members then returned fire, incapacitating Gounaris, an Ogle County Sheriff’s Office press release said.

VanVickle said Gounaris was armed with two handguns, a fixed-blade knife, pepper spray and ballistic armor. A search warrant has been obtained for the home and a search inside is planned and had not taken place as of Wednesday evening. VanVickle said the warrant will determine if drugs and alcohol were involved as well.

The Illinois State Police will be conducting the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. 

Charges against Gounaris stemming from the incident are pending and dependent on the ongoing investigation and review by the Ogle County State’s Attorney’s Office. A potential arrest would not be made until Gounaris is released from the hospital, due to the fact that the sheriff’s office would take on the cost of medical bills if an arrest was made before then, VanVickle said. 

The Ogle County Sheriff's Office was assisted on scene by the Lee County Sheriff's Office, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, Carroll County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police, Dixon Rural Fire Department, Dixon City Fire Department, Oregon Fire Department, Mt. Morris Fire Department, Polo Fire Department and helicopters from REACT and OSF. VanVickle thanked those agencies in a Wednesday night press release and described the day to the Ogle County Life and Rochelle News-Leader.

“I'm trying to catch my breath after today,” VanVickle said. “We're a small, rural agency and it was the middle of a Wednesday morning. We had people that had just come off shift at 5 a.m. and we used all the resources we had. We had to use some of our command staff. We had a lieutenant who was in the response along with myself. That was the need and how serious we took the situation. We train a lot on this type of stuff. We were prepared. We had the ambulances and an emergency room doctor here. We had our SWAT medics and all the right equipment. This was just a really bad situation and a no-win situation from law enforcement. Our people did exactly what we asked of them.”

Mental health resources have been made available to those involved and members of the responding departments, VanVickle said. 

Extensive training is done on responding to potential incidents like Wednesday’s, VanVickle said. The Ogle County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement organizations spent Monday and Tuesday training with active shooter drills at Byron High School. That training came into play Wednesday. The Ogle County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t seen an officer-involved shooting since the 1970s.

“We put in a ton of work to make sure everybody goes home every day,” VanVickle said. “One deputy took a round in the vest. We spend a lot of money on equipment to make sure they have the best equipment to go home to their families. Today's a testament to that. We had someone barricaded inside a door that essentially ambushed the deputies. And they're all going home to their families. We always tell our deputies that the risk is always there, no matter if it's a barricaded subject or a traffic stop. We train as much as we can and try to provide the best information and tactics we can.”