CEDAR LAKE | While the tragic slaughter of children was unfolding at a Connecticut school Friday, Cedar Lake police and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department were busy dealing with reports a man threatening to kill "as many people as he could" at Jane Ball Elementary School.
Interim Cedar Lake Police Chief Gerald A. Smith said his officers were called to the home of Von I. Meyer, 60, in the 9300 block of West 133rd Avenue on Friday morning.
Smith said Meyer allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire after she fell asleep.
A police statement says Meyer also said he would enter Jane Ball Elementary School and "kill as many people as he could" before police could possible stop him.
Meyer’s home is located within 1,000 feet of the school and connected through a set of trails and walking paths, Smith said. Inside his home, authorities said they found 47 guns and ammunition worth more than $100,000.
Lake County Clerk records showed no prior criminal charges against Meyer.
Smith said police notified the school resource officer and Hanover Community School Corp. officials, who worked closely with law enforcement officials to increase security measures at all Cedar Lake schools Friday.
Upon learning Meyer, a member of the Invaders Motorcycle Gang, had a large number of weapons and ammunition hidden throughout the two-story home, Cedar Lake Police and the Lake County Sheriff’s Tactical Team executed a search and arrest warrant shortly after noon Saturday, Smith said.
Meyer was charged Saturday with four counts of felony intimidation and misdemeanor domestic battery and two counts of resisting law enforcement. If convicted of all charges, Meyer faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Smith said Meyer is being held in the Lake County Jail without bond pending an initial hearing.
Toni Childs can see the Jane Ball Elementary from her driveway and said the thought of somebody threatening to harm people at the school made her "sick to her stomach."
"This is a world where there are no limits," she said. "People just go for shock and awe in all the wrong ways."
Childs, 61, said she's lived across from the school for about 10 years and has never had a problem.
Former Cedar Lake Police Chief and Police Commissioner Chuck Kouder praised Smith and his department for their quick response.
“I am proud of Chief Smith’s leadership and the department for their professionalism,” Kouder said. “It was well planned so that safety was ensured for everybody.”
In 1999, Meyer and several other plaintiffs, sued the city of Hammond and its police department, retired Hammond Detective Chuck Hedinger, a defendant in the case, said.
The suit was over an incident which occurred at Wiggles, a now-defunct strip club in Hammond, Hedinger said. Meyer was a bouncer there and was arrested for pulling a gun in its parking lot on three Chicago police officers who were customers at the club, Hedinger said. Court records show no charges arising from the arrest.
The case was eventually dismissed due to a lack of evidence, Hedinger said.
St. John resident Mike Koontz, who was at Hanover Central High School on Sunday, said the shootings in Connecticut should move local schools to amp up security.
"It's scary," he said. "What happened out there could happen anywhere."
Koontz said he hopes the police and legal officials are taking the Cedar Lake threat seriously and that law enforcement should be looking out for copy cats.
"It makes you realize how short life is," he said.
Times staff writer Lindsay Machak and the Associated Press contributed to this report.