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New Berlin man charged in armed confrontation with state senator in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD — A New Berlin man and Springfield business owner was charged Friday with assault and weapons charges in a Monday night incident in which he allegedly threatened a state senator with a gun while the two were driving.

Michael L. Hoyle, 54, of the 1400 block of Stonehaven Drive in New Berlin, was charged in Sangamon County Circuit Court with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and unlawful use of a weapon in connection with the incident involving state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago.

Hoyle, who was arrested Monday night, posted $15,000 bail and was released Tuesday from the Sangamon County Jail.

The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of one to three years in prison.

Hoyle hasn't entered a guilty or not guilty plea yet, and the case remains pending. An April 15 hearing is scheduled.

Hoyle is listed as president and owner of Kwik-Wall Co., 4650 Industrial Ave., Springfield, a supplier of movable walls and partitions, according to the company's website. Hoyle is listed in Illinois secretary of state records as a manager and agent of Kwik Wall Property Management Co., LLC.

Hoyle hasn't returned phone messages and an email from The State Journal-Register.

Sims told a State Journal-Register reporter Thursday that he feared for his life while being threatened with a gun as he drove to the Springfield home he owns and lives at during the legislative session.

Sims said the incident began about 8:15 p.m. Monday after he left the Stratton Office Building, where he underwent a test for COVID-19 in advance of Senate sessions and committee meetings later in the week.

He said he was westbound on Lawrence Avenue, headed to his west-side home, and was talking with his wife by phone on a Bluetooth device when his wife told him that she heard a beeping sound in the background.

A man later identified as Hoyle was driving behind Sims and was beeping his horn and turning his lights off and on, according to Sims.

The man, driving a pickup truck, allegedly pulled in front of Sims' SUV and slammed on his brakes on Lawrence, prompting Sims to slam on his own brakes, call 911, take a picture of the pickup truck's rear license plate and then pull up next to the pickup.

Sims said he rolled down his window, made eye contact with Hoyle and said, "I'm on the phone with 911, and so I want you to know the police are on their way."

Sims said the man then pulled out a handgun, pointed the gun at Sims and said, "Let's go."

Sims said he pressed the accelerator and sped away west on Lawrence to get away from Hoyle, then turned left, or south, onto Chatham Road on the city's west side.

As Sims was driving south on Chatham, he said, he saw Hoyle, in the pickup, hold the handgun outside the car but not fire the weapon.

The man kept chasing Sims on Chatham Road until the man turned right, or west, onto Old Jacksonville Road, Sims said.

Sims proceeded to a Schnucks supermarket on Montvale Drive, as directed by a 911 operator, to meet with a Jerome police officer.

Hoyle was stopped by Springfield police shortly afterward without incident, Springfield police Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel said.

Police were unaware of a motive for Hoyle's alleged behavior, Stuenkel said.

"At this time, we don't have any evidence to indicate that the suspect was targeting the victim because of his position," Stuenkel said.

Sims said he thinks his legislative license plates may have played a role.

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"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," Sims said. "The inference I make is that when he saw those legislative plates, it kicked in for him."

Sims, who represents part of Chicago's south side and nearby suburbs, said he has never been a victim of such a crime.

Sims, a lawyer, said the incident proved the need for the bill he sponsored that recently was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker and would eliminate the state's cash-bail system in two years.

Under the new system, courts will be required to scrutinize more carefully the potential risk that suspects pose to the public before deciding whether to keep them in custody or release them, Sims said.

The current cash-bail system often is unfair to low-income defendants who can't afford bail and must remain in jail, he said. Wealthier defendants who may be charged with more serious crimes are able to get out of jail while their cases go through the court system because they can afford bail, he said.

Sims said he would rather see Hoyle detained than given the option of bail. Sims said he will be more careful when driving around Springfield from now on.

Henry Haupt, spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State's Office, said Friday, "The Capitol Police have established a more visible security presence in the Capitol Complex after the terrible incident involving the senator."

Springfield police have been directed by police Chief Kenny Winslow to check on Sims' west-side home periodically as a precaution, Stuenkel said.


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