Prosecutors: Man threatened Lincoln-Way official, showed interest in getting weapons
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com December 19, 2012 11:08AM
Updated: January 21, 2013 3:49PM
A former Lincoln-Way Central High School teacher who said he had a minister’s permission “to shoot someone” has been charged with telephone harassment after he allegedly threatened a deputy superintendent, the Will County State’s Attorney’s office said Wednesday.
There were indications the man was interested in obtaining weapons, prosecutors said.
Ryan Gardner, 40, of Danville, was charged with felony harassment for threats made Dec. 6 to Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 Deputy Supt. Thomas Eddy, prosecutors said.
The charge was a felony because of three prior misdemeanor convictions for telephone harassment, dating back to 2004, in which he made threats to Eddy, Supt. Lawrence Wyllie and Principal Monica Schmitt, state’s attorney’s office spokesman Chuck Pelkie said. Gardner’s bail was set at $750,000.
Gardner was employed as a vocational education teacher from August 1996 to August 2003, District 210 spokeswoman Stacy Holland said.
Gardner was convicted in 2003 of criminal damage to the front lawn of someone’s personal property and criminal trespass at Lincoln-Way Central, and was ordered not to have any contact with the school, according to court records.
Gardner was convicted a year later of harassment by phone, and in 2007 was charged with harassment by phone but was found not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court records.
Gardner on Wednesday was at the University of Illinois Hospital, Chicago, undergoing voluntary treatment, Pelkie said. Once released, he was to be taken into custody in Will County.
“Given what occurred in Connecticut, this issue was taken extremely seriously, and made a top priority of (Will County State’s Attorney) Jim Glasgow,” Pelkie said.
Glasgow had been in contact with the Vermilion County state’s attorney’s office, which also has been investigating Gardner, Pelkie said.
“There were indications he was interested in obtaining weapons. We don’t know his ability to follow through with those, but we can’t take any chances,” Pelkie said. “He said he had the permission of a minister to shoot someone.”
The Vermilion County investigation “may have facilitated” Gardner’s move to the hospital, Pelkie said.
In a prepared statement, Wyllie outlined security measures in place at all four Lincoln-Way schools.
“Our first priority is to provide a safe environment for students,” Wyllie said. “We have security and crisis plans that have been developed and practiced with area police, fire and emergency services.
“Our buildings are locked and we have reviewed and practiced the crisis plans with all our staff and students at the beginning of each school year. In addition, each high school has a Will County Deputy School Resource Officer stationed in each school. We are working with law enforcement officials to resolve this issue.”