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Local News

Harrah's works on security plan; library called in murder suspect

Harrah's Casino on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Joliet, Ill.
Harrah's Casino on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Joliet, Ill.

The general manager of Harrah’s Joliet said the casino is working on new security measures in the aftermath of a hotel guest being stabbed to death Sunday night.

Emanuel Burgino, 76, was stabbed 26 times during a robbery on the fifth floor of the hotel, authorities said.

“It’s a tragic and senseless incident,” Harrah’s general manager Randy Conroy said. “We’re making some changes.”

Conroy would put out information about the new security measures when they are completed.

“We’re putting together our action plan, and we will socialize that when it’s done,” he said.

Conroy said he has received “a lot of calls from our hotel guests” about the incident. “I’m fielding those as they come,” he said.

Robert A. Watson, 25, whom police initially said is from Chicago but is listed in court records as being a resident of Normal, was arrested at 1:25 p.m. Monday at the Joliet Public Library Main Branch downtown. The library is located about a block away from Harrah’s Joliet.

Police picked up Watson quietly, library communications coordinator Mallory Hewlett said, whose office is near the spot where Watson was apprehended.

“I heard nothing. It was very quiet,” she said. “Police were called, and he was escorted out.”

Harrah’s surveillance video provided photos of the suspect, which were put out by Joliet police as they sought help from the public.

“Our staff did contact police because they recognized him from the Harrah’s footage,” Hewlett said.

Watson has a criminal record that, according to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, that includes convictions for robbery in Cook County, aggravated assault with a weapon in Texas, shoplifting and disorderly conduct in Arizona, and lewd and lascivious behavior in Wisconsin.

It’s not clear what he was doing in Joliet or where he was staying.

Police could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Hewlett said she did not know if Watson had been at the library previously, but he apparently never caused problems there.

“He didn’t pop up on our radar,” she said. “Our staff are trained professionals, and they’re diligent about removing people who are not following rules.”

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