Springfield, IL – A state lawmaker who sponsored legislation that eliminated cash bail got really upset when he learned a man who had threatened him with a gun had been released the next day after posting bail.
The incident occurred at about 8:15 p.m. on March 15 as Illinois State Senator Elgie Sims was driving home, The State-Journal Register reported.
Sims said he was talking to his wife via Bluetooth and driving westbound on Lawrence Avenue when the vehicle behind him began honking and flashing its lights at him.
“He was riding the horn, then cut in front of me and slammed on his brake on Lawrence a couple blocks before the dip in the road next to Pasfield Golf Course,” the lawmaker from Chicago told The State-Journal Register.
“There were a million things going through my mind,” Sims said. “I didn’t know what this was, where he came from, how long he had been behind me, how dangerous he was, and whether he was trying to stop me so other cars could come out.”
He said he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the Chevy pickup stopped in front of him, called 911, and took a picture of the back of the truck, The State-Journal Register reported.
Then Sims said he pulled up along the driver’s side of the truck and rolled down his window.
“I’m on the phone with 911 and so I want you to know the police are on their way,” he said he told the other driver, according to The State-Journal Register.
“That’s when he pulls out a handgun and points the gun at me and says, ‘Let’s go,’” Sims recalled.
He told The State-Journal Register he thought to himself, “‘Let’s go? Oh my god.’”
Sims said he hit the gas and fled the area after the other driver – later identified as 54-year-old Michael Hoyle – displayed the weapon.
Then he noticed that Hoyle had turned around and was following him, The State-Journal Register reported.
“He turned around and started chasing me again,” Sims said.
So Sims said he made a U-turn and fled, but as he passed Hoyle he saw the man was holding the gun outside his car, The State-Journal Register reported.
Hoyle did not fire his weapon.
Sims followed the 911 dispatcher’s instructions and met up with a Jerome police officer in the parking lot of a grocery store, The State-Journal Register reported.
Springfield Police Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel said officers from his department spotted Hoyle shortly thereafter and arrested him.
Preliminary charges against Hoyle included unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a firearm despite having a revoked Firearm Owners Identification card, aggravated assault/use of a deadly weapon, and possession of ammunition with no valid FOID card, according to The State-Journal Register.
Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright said he was waiting for investigative reports from police before making final charging decisions.
Chief Stuenkel said they don’t know what Hoyle’s motive was for harassing Sims, The State-Journal Register reported.
“At this time, we don’t have any evidence to indicate that the suspect was targeting the victim because of his position,” the police chief said.
Sims hypothesized that Hoyle might have targeted him because of his legislative license plates, The State-Journal Register reported.
“I know that when he got directly behind me and got the clear view of the back of my car — my license plates are clearly displayed — I know that he got more aggressive when he got directly behind my car,” the lawmaker said. “The inference I make is that when he saw those legislative plates, it kicked in for him.”
Hoyle was released from the Sangamon County Jail on a $15,000 bail the next day, The State-Journal Register reported.
Sims was furious.
“By him being released on bail, he’s free to do this again,” he complained.
The lawmaker said that if the law he sponsored to do away with bail had been in effect, the court would have had to do a more thorough analysis of whether Hoyle was a threat to public safety and probably would have remained behind bars, The State-Journal Register reported.
“I think it’s a perfect example of how cash bail doesn’t make people more safe,” Sim said.