DANVILLE - The Will County state's attorney has charged a Danville man after he allegedly threatened the deputy superintendent at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox.
Ryan Gardner, 40, was charged with one count of harassment by telephone, according to Charlie Pelkie, spokesperson for the state's attorney's office, for allegedly making a harassing phone call on Dec. 6 to Thomas Eddy, deputy superintendent at Lincoln-Way Central High School, where Gardner had been a teacher.
Pelkie said the count is a Class 4 felony, because Gardner has three prior misdemeanor convictions in the last 10 years for harassment by telephone for making threats to Eddy as well as the school district's superintendent and another administrator.
Will County has issued a warrant for his arrest with a bond of $750,000, but Pelkie said the warrant has not yet been executed, because Gardner is in the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago receiving treatment.
"My understanding is that upon his release the warrant will be executed, and he will be taken into custody by law enforcement," Pelkie said.
Pelkie said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow personally reviewed the case and was in contact with Will County and Vermilion County law enforcement officials to determine the best course of action and appropriate charges.
"In light of what happened in Connecticut, any time there is any kind of harassment or potential threat to a school district or school official, the state's attorney believes, and rightly so, you have to move very quickly in order to protect the students as well as the school officials," said Pelkie, who added that reports from Vermilion County law enforcement officials indicated that Gardner allegedly made threatening comments about acquiring guns. "So those are reports we received from Vermilion County and obviously with those kinds of statements, it only serves to heighten the state's attorney's concerns with regard to protecting the students at Lincoln Way."
Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn would not disclose details of his department's investigation of Gardner, citing health privacy laws, but did disclose that the sheriff's department received a 911 call from Gardner's Danville residence on Dec. 13 and again on Dec. 16. The alleged harassing phone call to Eddy was on Dec. 6. Hartshorn would not disclose the nature of those 911 calls but said Gardner was generally out of control, and in both incidents he was transported to Provena United Samaritans Medical Center's emergency room for evaluation.
Lincoln-Way school officials could not be reached for comment, but the district posted a news release on its web site stating the following.
"This message is for our parents of the students of the Lincoln-Way High School District 210. A former Lincoln-Way Central High School teacher is being charged with telephone harassment in connection with alleged threats against school district officials. He is in the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. Our first priority is to provide a safe environment for your students. We have security and crisis plans that have been developed and practiced with area police, fire and emergency services. We meet on a regular basis with local first responders to discuss and review appropriate action in the event of an emergency. 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."