Cops: Cedar Lake man’s threat wasn’t credible
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent December 16, 2012 1:40PM
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:17AM
CEDAR LAKE — There was no plot behind the threat made by a local man Friday to harm students and staff at Jane Ball Elementary School.
“This was no plan,” interim police chief Gerald Smith said Sunday.
The threat however was taken seriously by Cedar Lake police, who charged Von I. Meyer, 60, with four counts of felony intimidation, one count of misdemeanor domestic battery and two counts of misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.
Smith said the threat was made Friday during a domestic disturbance between Meyer and his wife, who is an employee in the school’s cafeteria. During the heated altercation, which turned from verbal to physical, Meyer threatened to set his wife on fire after she fell asleep and “kill as many people as he could” at neighboring Jane Ball School.
“We took the threat as credible,” Smith said.
Smith said when the department learned of the threat the school’s resource officer was notified and an extra patrol was added. The backyard of Meyer’s home abuts the north side of the school’s property.
The more than 100-year-old two-story home, in the 9300 block of West 133rd Avenue, was considered one of the resort community’s mansions when it was first constructed in the early 1900s, according to Smith. It underwent major renovations in the 1950s. The home is in a current state of disrepair. A line of trees and evergreens separates the two properties.
Smith said rumors about a cache of weapons and ammunition inside the home had been circulating, so police obtained a search warrant for the home Saturday. During that search 47 weapons, with an estimated value of more than $100,000, were found.
“The majority of them are antique style,” Smith said. “As far as we can tell they are legally owned.”
Meyer is being held in the Lake County Jail without bond. A judge will have to decide whether the weapons may be returned to the home.
Smith said the department is taking no chances when it comes to the safety of students in the wake of the Friday school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn. The department already was planning on fortifiying patrols around the town’s schools in both the Hanover and Crown Point school systems.
“We don’t want anybody to have the thought to be a copycat. We are planning heightened security measures at both (school systems),” Smith said.
Neighbors declined to comment Sunday as news of the threat spread. Residents expressed shock at the news that hit so close to home.
“I’d hate to think something like that can happen here,” said Tom Michaels, of Cedar Lake, while gassing up his car at Casey’s General Store. Michaels said he cannot understand what makes someone kill senselessly, especially children.
“My heart goes out to the families in Connecticut. I’m glad no one was hurt here,” he said.
Hanover School Board member Mary Joan Dickson said Cedar Lake Police notified Jane Ball administration of the threat made against the school Friday and the school was put on a soft lockdown as a precautionary measure.
“In light of what happened Friday, Cedar Lake police were doing their job,” Dickson said.
Dickson said school officials did not learn of the magnitude of weapons found in the home adjacent to the elementary school until reading about Sunday morning. She said officials will discuss the situation with interim superintendent Richard Cook to determine what if any actions will be taken at the school Monday.
Dickson, who lives seven houses away from Meyer, said she was surprised by the news. She said the Meyer family has lived in Cedar Lake for decades and Meyer and his sister attended Hanover schools.
The home in which Meyer lives was his childhood home. She said Meyer keeps to himself and is rarely seen, only to mow the lawn on his riding lawnmower and get the mail.