A former Lincoln-Way Central High School teacher charged with threatening school district officials may have been legally insane at the time of the incident, his lawyer suggested during an arraignment Friday morning in Will County court.
Ryan Gardner, 40, most recently a resident of downstate Danville, has been jailed since Jan. 16 on a felony charge of making a telephone threat.
Prior to his being processed at the Will County jail, Gardner was receiving psychiatric care at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. He had checked himself into the hospital voluntarily.
Gardner was hit with the felony charge after he allegedly made a Dec. 6 telephone call to Lincoln-Way School District Deputy Superintendent Thomas Eddy. About a week after the call to Eddy, officials in the Danville area learned of Gardner threatening to "shoot and kill" officials from the Lincoln-Way School District, a law enforcement official said.
Authorities also reportedly learned Gardner was talking about trying to get his hands on a gun and that he told at least one person in the Danville area that he was given permission by a minister to kill someone.
A criminal complaint was secured against Gardner Dec. 18, but he was not placed under arrest until he was discharged from the hospital.
Gardner had been charged with threatening Lincoln-Way officials twice before his trouble in December. He was first arrested in 2004 and eventually pleaded guilty to telephone harassment. The plea got Gardner a 120-day jail sentence.
Gardner was again charged with telephone harassment in April 2007. The charges were later boosted to felony harassment by electronic communication, but Gardner was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
During the arraignment Friday, attorney Alexander Beck presented a motion requesting Gardner undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The evaluation is hoped to determine whether Gardner was sane at the time he made the alleged threat. The motion claims Gardner "may be suffering from a mental defect or deficiency that renders him legally insane."
Judge Gerald Kinney allowed the evaluation and put the case on Judge Edward Burmila's call.