String of gun busts at TopGolf in Naperville unrelated, authorities say


Authorities say they have no reason to believe the string of gun arrests made at Naperville’s TopGolf facility over the past three weeks are connected and maintain the business is safe to visit.

Since Sept. 11, three loaded guns — on three separate occasions — have been recovered from cars parked outside the facility. In each of the cases, a police officer walking a foot patrol of TopGolf’s 3221 Odyssey Court parking lot spotted a gun clearly through a window, which led to charges and the recovery of the weapons.

None of the busts involved area residents.

“I don’t have any evidence to suggest that they’re connected at all,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin said Monday, when the third gun-related arrest at TopGolf was announced. “The only common denominator is that Naperville police are doing a great job of finding these guns and arresting the people responsible for carrying them and bringing those cases to us.”

Rather, Berlin said, “What we’re seeing at TopGolf is part of a trend that we’ve been seeing over the last few years (with) people illegally possessing guns.”

To illustrate “how bad it has gotten,” Berlin said, he pointed to a local spike in the number of times a felon has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon. In 2019, the DuPage state’s attorney office charged 41 total cases countywide, he said. In 2022, the office charged 121 — a 195% increase over three years.

Berlin didn’t have data for 2023 but anecdotally said “numbers are on par with 2022.”

“The good news in that increase is that the police are doing their job,” he said. “We’re taking illegal guns off the street and arresting and prosecuting people that have no right to possess them.”

Over the weekend, officers arrested Jalen Littleton, 19, of Hammond, Indiana, after officers observed him and a companion outside of TopGolf Saturday night returning to a parked Chevy Cruze, where a fully-loaded machine gun allegedly sat on the driver’s side floorboard.

Littleton, who does not have a valid firearm owner’s ID card or a concealed carry license, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon-machine gun, a class X felony.

Less than a week prior to Littleton’s arrest, Ronald Richardson, 34, of Chicago, was taken into custody in TopGolf’s parking lot. Just before midnight Sept. 26, officers patrolling the facility saw the extended magazine of a Glock 27 .40-caliber handgun — loaded with 19 rounds — protruding from the driver’s side of a parked vehicle. Shortly after, Richardson allegedly returned to the car and got inside, reports said.

Richardson was out on parole for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon conviction in Cook County at the time of his arrest. He was charged with being an armed habitual criminal and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, both felonies.

A very similar arrest was made the night of Sept. 11, when an officer doing a foot patrol of the TopGolf lot noticed a strong odor of cannabis coming from an unoccupied Volkswagen SUV and observed a gun protruding from the driver’s side door frame.

Darron Prince, a 36-year-old Joliet resident, was charged with armed habitual criminal and armed violence, both class X felonies.

Both Littleton and Richardson were denied pretrial release before their next court appearances later this month, motions Berlin lauded as a testament to the impact of Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act, which — as of Sept. 18 — eliminated cash bail across the state.

“These people may have gotten cash bonds before, but now they’ve been detained pretrial and can’t get out,” he said. “In those cases, it’s an example of the new law working in the way that it was intended to.”

Berlin said authorities’ response is “why the people of Naperville should still feel safe.”

Echoing Berlin’s comments, Naperville police Cmdr. Michaus Williams recognized that the TopGolf arrests were high profile, but added “that was because the alleged crimes garnered class X felonies and those carry significant penalties,” he wrote in a statement to the Naperville Sun.

Williams did say that, “With any location that yields proceeds of criminal activity, officers tend to gravitate towards them.” He also confirmed that private property lots — including parking areas for TopGolf, but also hotels/motels, retail centers and general “hot spots” around the city — are routinely patrolled.

Naperville police have recovered numerous illegal firearms in various locations of the city, he said.

“(Our chief) has stressed that this department will continue to engage in proactive ways to remove illegal firearms to do what we can to keep this community safe,” he said.

Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli offered similar assurances.

“We’re enforcing the state laws and our city ordinances everywhere in the city,” he said, speaking after the Naperville City Council’s meeting Tuesday night. “TopGolf is one location.

“There’s other locations (where) those types of arrests have certainly taken place. … We take violations of state and local laws very seriously. Our state’s attorney does as well. So we fully expect them to continue to enforce the laws to protect our community, protect our residents, protect our businesses. And we’re going to support them in their efforts to do so.”


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