Zion man shot by cops had schizophrenia, dad says
The Zion man who was fatally shot by police Wednesday had schizophrenia and a history of violence, his father said Thursday.
"There had been voices I'd never hear," Carl Hollstein said of his son, Charles J. Hollstein, 38.
The younger Hollstein also had a history of criminal behavior, court records show.
Charles Hollstein was killed Wednesday morning by Zion police officers responding to a complaint about a man taking photographs at local schools, police said. They found him near 22nd Street and Bethesda Boulevard.
Lakeview Elementary School, an early childhood building for Zion Elementary District 6, and New Tech High @ Zion-Benton East are in the area.
Hollstein was shot in the back during a struggle that followed a foot chase. He was carrying a pellet gun that looked like a real pistol and was wearing a vest equipped with homemade metal inserts, authorities said. Police called the vest body armor.
He died at Vista East Hospital in Waukegan. An autopsy revealed Hollstein was shot three times in the back, Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd said.
The shots weren't fired at close range, Rudd said, but the exact distance wasn't evident from the examination.
Carl Hollstein, of Frankfort, described his son as likable. But he also said his son -- whom he called "Charlie" -- was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens or early 20s.
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder. People with schizophrenia often lose touch with reality, hallucinate, hear voices that aren't there or suffer from delusions, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Charles Hollstein had been violent with his father. He hadn't been allowed at his dad's farm in Frankfort since 2004 because of one such incident, the elder Hollstein said.
According to Will County court records, Charles Hollstein was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of aggravated battery to a peace officer in 2003. He was ordered to have a psychological evaluation.
Hollstein was charged with domestic battery and possession of marijuana in 2004. After that arrest, he was sent to the Elgin Mental Health Center, where he remained until a 2007 release.
Hollstein's criminal record also includes a 2004 fine for retail theft in Frankfort, court records show. A 2004 charge of consumption of alcohol in a public place was dropped by prosecutors. He was found guilty of attempted drug solicitation in Cook County in 1999, fined $200 and put on court supervision, court records show.
Frankfort Deputy Police Chief Kevin Keegan remembered dealing with Hollstein years ago.
"Even though we arrested him, he was always a decent guy," Keegan said. "He was always decent to us."
At the time of his death, Hollstein was living in an apartment, police said. He had lived in Zion two or three years and was unemployed, his father said.
"We haven't had any trouble with him for some long time," Carl Hollstein said.
Charles Hollstein was an only child, and his father is his only living relative, his dad said.
The elder Hollstein last saw his son in November, but they'd spoken on the telephone since then.
He didn't know why his son was wearing body armor or carrying a pellet gun, and he didn't know why he was taking photos at Zion schools.
"He made a mistake by going over to that school," Carl Hollstein said. "He never used the best judgment."
Hollstein said he didn't blame officers in his son's death. Police only have "half a second" to decide what to do in a confrontation, he said.
"The police don't want to get shot either," he said. "I can understand that."
Hollstein also acknowledged officers and school officials "don't want another Sandy Hook," referring to the infamous 2012 school shooting in Connecticut that left 27 people dead.
Even so, Hollstein questioned if officers "rushed to judgment" or panicked during the confrontation.
The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is investigating the shooting. The two Zion police officers involved are on paid administrative leave.
• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Barbara Vitello contributed to this report.