URBANA — A St. Joseph man in custody for allegedly making threatening remarks about causing harm at an area high school has a history of conflict with students and allegedly tried to kill himself earlier this month.
Uriah N. Fosdick, 34, who lives across the street from the St. Joseph-Ogden High School, was arraigned Tuesday on a single charge of making a terrorist threat, alleging he made a threatening comment on Saturday to a Champaign County sheriff's deputy who had come to his home to serve him with a notice to appear in court for an earlier disorderly conduct charge.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she could recall filing the Class X felony terrorist threat charge only once before in 2010, against a man with mental issues who threatened to shoot News-Gazette employees over a letter to the editor he wanted published.
Rietz said high school officials and the sheriff's office have attempted to work with Fosdick for several months to resolve his conflicts with high school students.
"He and his wife rent a house across the street from the high school. For the past approximately one year he's had issues with students who he believes are playing their music too loudly or honking their horns outside his house or otherwise aggravating him. He believes it's purposeful," she said.
"He, in response, has approached them either in the school parking lot or by following them in a threatening manner or getting out and yelling at them," she said.
She said he has called the sheriff's office several times to report students honking their horns outside his home. She cited one report where he called the sheriff's office after finding a Dairy Queen cup in his yard, which he believed had been purposely placed there.
On Saturday, Jan. 5, Rietz said after hearing a horn honk outside his home, Fosdick and his wife got in their car and followed the vehicle to a park, confronting the 16-year-old male driver from Rantoul.
The teen was concerned enough about his safety, Rietz said, that he armed himself with a baseball bat that he had in his car. Rietz said the deputy's report said that the 16-year-old was familiar with Fosdick and his reaction to horn honking.
"Deputies were called out and defused the situation that evening," she said.
Then, on Tuesday, Jan. 8, about 4:30 p.m., Champaign police officers were called to North Prospect Avenue over Interstate 74 and found Fosdick standing on the sidewalk leaning against the railing.
"He was depressed and said he was planning on jumping," said Rietz, summarizing the police report. His wife was also present and police were able to talk him in to the squad car and took him to Carle Hospital in Urbana.
Rietz said sheriff's deputies were apparently unaware of the Jan. 8 incident on the overpass when they decided to issue Fosdick a notice to appear in court for allegedly threatening the teen on Jan. 5.
Rietz said Deputy Mike Wertz went to Fosdick's home Saturday to serve the notice when Fosdick responded that he was going to "take things into his own hands.
"He said he had just been released from the hospital that day, (and) because the situation was making him crazy, that he was going to get a gun and take care of things, saying: 'You know Columbine and Connecticut. I'm going to be that guy. I'm going to deal with it and then you guys are going to have to deal with me.'" Rietz said.
Rietz said Fosdick ordered Wertz to leave his property, which the deputy did after serving the notice.
"In response to that, the sheriff's office and St. Joseph school officials took steps to protect the school and students," she said,
The sheriff's office arrested Fosdick Monday afternoon on the warrant charging him with making a terrorist threat.
Rietz said Fosdick has prior convictions from Vermilion County for burglary and theft from 1996 and 1997, respectively.
He also has a pending aggravated fleeing and reckless driving case from Vermilion County.
In that case, Rietz said a Vermilion County sheriff's deputy saw what he believed was a suspicious vehicle about 3:30 a.m. on June 16 and tried to stop it on a county road west of Bismarck. The driver, later identified as Fosdick, refused to stop, leading deputies on a chase estimated to have reached up to 90 mph. It finally ended in St. Joseph. When Fosdick refused deputies' orders to get on the ground, he was shocked with a Taser, Rietz said.
Rietz said she has no formal reports about Fosdick's mental health and is going by statements he made to the deputies.
"Obviously, my concern is making sure his mental health issues are addressed." she said.
Jail overseer Capt. Allen Jones said Fosdick received the same mental health screening and evaluation that all incoming inmates do when he was booked in Monday.
"His condition is stable and he will be housed appropriately if unable to post bond," he said.
Assistant Public Defender Amanda Riess asked Judge Richard Klaus to lower Fosdick's bond, saying he has five children who rely on him for support. Four live with him. She also said he's been receiving mental health treatment and has a counselor at Carle.
Klaus declined to lower Fosdick's bond from the $750,000 set Monday and ordered that he have no contact with either the St. Joseph Grade School or the St. Joseph-Ogden High School or any of its students. He was told to be back in court Jan. 22 for a preliminary hearing.