HENNEPIN — A McNabb man has been ordered to undergo a mental fitness exam in the wake of a seven-hour police standoff in which he also heavily damaged his apartment and its contents, according to the owner.
Billy J. Marcano, 31, made his first appearance in Putnam County Circuit Court on Thursday on the single count of burglary, which alleges he broke into the Moreno’s on Main Restaurant on Tuesday afternoon with a machete with the intent to commit aggravated battery. It’s the only charge filed so far in connection with the episode, in which he barricaded himself inside the apartment adjacent to the restaurant after police responded.
A history of “unsettling” social media postings before and during that incident, irrational behavior and a list of prescribed medications were among the reasons cited by attorneys for the psychiatric evaluation to be conducted by Dr. Ryan Finkenbine, chair and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.
“This court finds that a bona fide doubt as to the defendant’s fitness for trial, to plead or to be sentenced has been raised,” Circuit Judge James Mack stated in his order for the evaluation.
Marcano, appearing in court in a green jail jumpsuit and orange sandals, calmly answered, “Yes, your honor,” when asked whether he wanted a public defender and, “Thank you, your honor,” when Mack appointed Roger Bolin. Marcano is being held in the LaSalle County Jail on $500,000 bond.
The standoff ended peacefully with Marcano’s surrender at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. But it left the apartment in a shambles of broken glass, destroyed appliances and fixtures, upended furniture and other damage that included several holes punched in walls, a visit Thursday afternoon revealed.
“I haven’t seen it. I can’t go in there,” said owner Linda Moreno, who has allowed media to view and photograph the wreckage in the building that she has owned for 18 years.
Marcano had lived in the street-level apartment for about eight months, Moreno said. He said he had moved from Florida and had license plates from there, she added, though the chaos inside included a 2017 Illinois plate. Moreno said she had no idea why he had moved to McNabb and that he did not seem to have a job.
“Not as far as I know,” she said.
Marcano “kept the place immaculate” at first, but that had gradually changed over about the past two months along with the development of more erratic and sometimes threatening behavior, Moreno said. “It just started escalating,” she said.
Authorities responded after a call came in at 1:47 p.m. about someone breaking through the locked door separating the restaurant and apartment. Putnam County EMS director Andy Jackson hurried Moreno and two employees out of the building to a car, she said.
“It was Andy who got us out — the cook and the waitress and me,” Moreno noted. “If we hadn’t gotten out, we’d have been lying here with our heads cut off.”
Marcano, who had posted extensively on Facebook over the past several weeks, wrote at about 2:30 p.m. that he was “at a standoff” and warned area residents that “My blood is on your hands.” But after numerous other postings, he stated at about 9 p.m. that “My intention was never to hurt a soul....Now lets see if the state police keep their word. I'm coming out."
State’s Attorney Christina Judd Mennie joined Bolin in calling attention to Marcano’s prolific Facebook history during the hearing, and Mennie submitted a thick stack of printouts dating from Feb. 1 to Tuesday night. Those were placed in the public court file, and Marcano’s page remains online.
Before the Tuesday incident, the postings included an often rambling gamut of Bible verses and prayers, emojis, inspirational or self-help videos, and rantings about police and other topics. Feb. 2 postings included a photo of Marcano holding a sword and declaring he had been “knighted by St. Michael the Archangel” and would use the sword on his enemy.
“His social media is unsettling,” Mennie observed after the hearing.
Mack scheduled a March 7 hearing to review the status of the evaluation. Mennie said further charges might follow if Marcano is eventually found fit, but she declined to elaborate until that question is answered.
“His mental stability and fitness is my main concern right now,” she said.
Moreno said she’s awaiting an insurance adjuster’s report and contractor estimates on repair, though she’s thinking of selling the apartment space to a neighboring business instead. At the same time, she’s relieved that property damage was all that occurred.
“I was only happy that everybody was OK,” she said.
Gary L. Smith can be reached at (800) 516-0389 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Glsmithx.