Guns could present biggest problem for August Busch IV after helicopter incident

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SWANSEA, IL – The St. Clair County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office awaits toxicology results while considering criminal charges against August Busch IV. Swansea police say Busch appeared intoxicated when they stopped him from flying off in his chopper. A local attorney says Busch could be under the microscope for much more than just attempting to fly under the influence.

Busch has been in the news for decades, for much more than what’s tied to his family’s former Budweiser beer empire. News events include sensational encounters with police and two women who’ve died. However, it’s the reported guns that could cause him the most trouble this time. On Tuesday, a concerned citizen called police about “an intoxicated male who was getting into a helicopter and attempting to fly away.”

Swansea police stopped him. It was August Busch IV.

“They placed the suspect in custody on suspicion of operating an aircraft under the influence,” said Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson.

The police report said Busch blew a .000, but added he was, “unable to keep a single train of thought.”
Police drew blood and sent the sample in for testing; they’re awaiting the results.

Officers reported finding prescriptions for two different anxiety drugs. One was Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax. Another was Clonazepam, sometimes known by the brand name Klonopin.

Attorney Kenneth Carp says blood levels from prescriptions could still lead to charges.

“Prescriptions always pose a problem because it`s under the influence of something, we just always associate it with liquor because that's what most people are stopped for,” Carp said.

Blood levels could also lead to charges of illegal use of a firearm. Busch told police he had a loaded 9mm in his pocket. Swansea police later seized from Busch’s helicopter a Ruger revolver, a .357 Magnum, and a Glock 33.

“I would speculate the guns are probably more of a problem, because it’s easier to get to a higher level of a felony,” Carp said.

The Swansea police report makes no mention of whether Busch has an Illinois Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID) along with his Missouri license.

“Most states allow reciprocity. If it’s good in my state, it’s good in your state. Illinois doesn’t allow reciprocity for anything as it relates to conceal carry,” Carp said. “(Busch’s) ability to have it loaded is probably covered by his Missouri conceal and carry while he was in the helicopter. Once he stepped out of the helicopter, it doesn’t protect him at all.”

This is at least the fifth high profile event involving police and August Busch IV.

1984 - Busch avoided criminal charges after a car crash in Arizona killed a 22 year old woman.
1986 - A jury acquitted Busch after an assault trial in connection with a high speed chase in the St. Louis’ Central West End.
2010 - Adrienne Martin died of an accidental drug overdose at Busch`s Huntleigh mansion.
2012 - Busch paid $1.75 million to settle a civil suit, with most of the money going to Adrienne Martin`s son.
January 2017 - According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police in Key West, FL questioned Busch after he reportedly pulled a gun on a man who confronted him for the way he parked in a bank parking lot.