Northern California’s Rain Rock Casino reopened on Tuesday a couple days after a lone man carrying a shotgun entered the gaming property. The suspect, identified as Billy Joseph Sonntag, 33, who is believed to be a former dealer at the tribal venue, remains in custody.
As details emerge, it was revealed by authorities that Sonntag arrived at the Yreka, Calif. casino’s front entrance at about 11 am Saturday. A casino manager went with Sonntag to the casino’s security office. Other staff led players and visitors away from the gaming property.
Local police were contacted. Soon after they arrived at the gaming property, Sonntag was apprehended and handcuffed without incident. He put down the shotgun when asked to by local police officers, police said.
As of Wednesday morning, Sonntag remains in the Siskiyou County Jail. Bail initially was set at $1 million. He is charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, and carrying a loaded firearm in a public place.
Bomb Squad Searches Box
Authorities also seized a silver box he had carried to the casino, police said. The box was left by Sonntag at the casino’s front entrance, police add.
It turned out it only contained papers. As a precaution, specialized law enforcement teams who handle explosives responded to the casino. They secured the box, opened it, and inspected it.
Also, authorities revealed that on Saturday multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the casino. These include the Yreka Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team, and Explosive Ordinance Demolition teams.
We would like to say thank you to our allied agencies for their quick response and help during this incident,” the Yreka Police Department said in a Facebook post about the weekend incident. “To the casino staff, you have our gratitude and respect. Because of your quick thinking and brave actions no one was injured.”
Allegations of Wrongdoing, Conspiracies
Prior to the incident, Sonntag posted statements which claimed workers at the casino were involved in drug trafficking and other wrongdoing, according to the Riverside County News Source, a local news site. It appears from his statement that he relayed his concerns to casino management and investigators spoke to him about his allegations. The casino is operated by the Karuk Tribe.
When reached for a response, Karuk Tribal Council Chairman Russell “Buster” Attebery, told Casino.org, “Law enforcement is aware of these claims made by the suspect.”
Rain Rock Casino has and will continue to work with law enforcement to provide anything to assist law enforcement in the ongoing investigation,” he added. He referred further questions to the Yreka Police Department.
In a YouTube video, Sonntag also claims there was a conspiracy among his family members and others directed against him. He feared for his safety.
In an earlier incident, female servers at a Rain Rock Casino restaurant last year alleged there was workplace harassment against them by a male co-worker. They also criticized the response by the casino management to their complaint.
But the casino said in a statement it had investigated the allegations and takes such concerns seriously. There is no reason to believe last year’s situation was connected to Saturday’s incident.
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