By Bob Uphues
How did a convicted felon with a history of mental health issues end up with a gun in his hand on the firing range of a Lyons gun shop on the afternoon of Sept. 17?
Apparently, by presenting an out-of-state identification card.
Lyons Police Cmdr. Brian Kuratko confirmed Wednesday that Michael P. Babinsky, 49, of Riverside, presented a Michigan ID card to an employee at Midwest Guns, 8565 Plainfield Road, in order to enter the gun range there on Tuesday afternoon.
It was there that Babinsky suffered an apparent self-inflicted, fatal gunshot wound to his head or neck. Police responded to the gun shop just prior to 2 p.m. on Tuesday and reported finding Babinsky on the first floor of the gun range with a serious head wound.
Babinsky was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he was pronounced dead at 5:36 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
The medical examiner's office is reporting the spelling of his last name as "Babinski." However, family records and past police records in Riverside identify his name as Babinsky.
It is unclear at this time if his last name was spelled "Babinski" on the Michigan ID.
Lyons police on Tuesday interviewed witnesses and video surveillance footage from the gun shop and said they were treating the incident "as a possible accidental shooting."
A spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said Babinsky suffered a gunshot wound to the head or neck, but had no further information since an autopsy is pending.
Although Babinsky at one time had lived in Michigan, he was living at his mother's home in Riverside at the time of Tuesday's incident.
Babinsky, according to a police source, has had numerous contacts with Riverside police in the past. One of the most serious was on March 18, 2009, when a woman called police to report a suspicious man following her and her children as they walked near St. Mary School.
Police confronted Babinsky at the intersection of Nuttall and Delaplaine roads, where Babinsky fought so hard it took five police officers to subdue him. Police also reported recovering a folding knife and a box cutter from Babinsky during the incident.
Babinsky pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated battery to a police officer, a felony, and was sentenced to two years' probation in addition to treatment at a mental health care facility, according to police.
Had Babinsky identified himself as an Illinois resident at the gun range, under Illinois law, he would have had to present a Firearm Owner's Identification card or he would have had to prove he was eligible to hold FOID card and be directly supervised by someone aged 21 years or older who possessed a FOID card in order to possess a weapon on a firing range.
Under Illinois law, however, Babinsky's criminal history would have prevented him from obtaining a FOID card. But Illinois law also states that non-Illinois residents are permitted on shooting ranges as long as they have their weapons unloaded and in a case at all other times.