S.E. Gross Middle School custodian charged with threatening co-workers

Taken into custody Friday at Brookfield school after being fired from job


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By Bob Uphues


A custodian at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield was arrested Friday and charged with four felony counts of disorderly conduct after reportedly making threats against four co-workers.

Timothy Mesich, 41, a night custodian, was taken into custody at the school by two Brookfield police officers after he was summarily fired by Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski at a termination hearing on Friday afternoon.

At a bond hearing Monday morning at the Maybrook courthouse, a Cook County judge set the Countryside resident's bond at $350,000. He remains in custody at Cook County Jail. At a hearing slated for Jan. 30, prosecutors are expected to announce they'll seek to indict Mesich.

In addition, Mesich was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of firearm ammunition without a permit. Following Mesich's arrest, police searched his Countryside apartment and reported finding 138 rounds of ammunition for various caliber weapons. Police did not find any weapons, and Mesich reportedly denied owning any firearms.

School staff members were notified of the arrest Monday, and Kuzniewski sent home a letter to parents Monday afternoon.

Police said that Mesich threatened to shoot co-workers he had problems with, including the district's director of buildings and grounds, Rich Batka. Mesich on more than one occasion also reportedly threatened to sexually assault a female co-worker.

Mesich, who worked at S.E. Gross School for about 12 years, has denied making the threats according to police, and he characterized the alleged sexual assault threats as harmless banter.

Kuzniewski said the alleged threats were directed at Mesich's custodial co-workers only.

"There were no threats to students or instructional staff," said Kuzniewski, who learned of the alleged threats on Jan. 22 from one of Mesich's co-workers. Kuzniewski said he notified police immediately and began his internal investigation the next day.

Kuzniewski said he decided to terminate Mesich on Thursday, Jan. 24 and planned to do it at a meeting after Mesich arrived for work on Friday afternoon. The meeting took place after children had left the building for the day.

Two police officers waiting outside the meeting room arrested Mesich as he walked out.

"Once he was taken into custody, we escorted him to his personal area to get some personal effects, and then we took him to the station," said Brookfield Police Lt. Edward Petrak.

The threats to co-workers reportedly began around Dec. 1, according to Kuzniewski, and were sparked by an argument Mesich had with a female co-worker about his job performance.

During the next several weeks, Mesich reportedly made threats against four of his co-workers, not necessarily directly. According to Petrak, Mesich would typically make the threat while complaining to another employee.

Because he was a custodian, Mesich had keys to the building. While those have been taken from him, Kuzniewski moved to assure families that the school was taking steps to make sure the building remains secure.

"We're taking every precautionary step to make sure he doesn't have access to the buildings," said Kuzniewski, who added that he had been in touch with LaGrange Park police and staff at Brook Park School.

"Our school safety plan has measures to address not only being proactive, as in this case, but also how to prepare for situations like this after the fact," Kuzniewski said.

Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Kristina from Brookfield   

Posted: February 20th, 2013 11:44 AM

I don't know Tim but I know of him. I've lived in Brookfield my whole life and from everything I've ever heard its never been bad. Just a guy that used to b down on his luck that lived in the woods next to my house for a short period. Totally harmless. I believe the accusations against him are all made up by coworks that wanted him fired!! It's scary to think that if a few people don't like u fr whatever stupid reasons they can gang up on u tell lies, get u fired, arrested, and thrown in jail!

holly m. from columbia mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:54 PM

has anyone contacted his brother or parents to let them know what happened???

holly m. from columbia mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:48 PM

430 ILCS 65 2(a)(1) [10735] POSS FIREARM/NO FOID/ELIGIBLE 2 counts was what he was booked on. think the coworkers dropped the so called threats.

holly m. from columbia mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:22 PM

1. Empty Shells and 2. Ammo for Antique guns that are over 100 years old. 3. he didnt even own any fire arms. Anyone who knows tim knows he's a scrapper / Collector of unique things. this is so true, he metal detects and finds all sorts of oddities.

holly m. from columbia mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 5:03 PM

tim did not own ANY guns, nor would he without a foid card he was talking the whole last month about moving to missouri. he had the rounds due to finding them when he went to the woods to metal detect. he is harmless! just because he has a beard and long hair dont make him bad, its just his way.

holly m. from columbia, mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 4:59 PM

almost nightly she could not finish her work and he felt it was his duty to help her, then she stabbed him in the back with lies. he has never owned a gun, and still does not own one. he has had mental breakdowns in the past and at one time was homeless living in the woods. he was heading for another the last time i spoke with him a week ago.

holly m. from columbia mo  

Posted: February 6th, 2013 4:56 PM

i have known tim for 6 years and have had nightly convos with him for the 6 years. he would call me every night and we would talk about everything and anything that was bothering him. he would not hurt a fly! he was being harrassed from day one by the female co worker and i heard some over the phone when he called me on his break time. she is mean and vindicitive and was out to have him fired from day one, even though he spent extra time helping her do her work cause she couldnt finish on time

Jack from Brookfield  

Posted: February 5th, 2013 8:20 AM

I think it's sad that his other co workers pick on him because he's alittle slow. That is very unprofessional! Also I heard from a little birdy that woman co worker had it out for Tim. I think it's really sad they used oh he threaten co workers with a gun to get him fired. There's other ways to fire someone without running his life!

Also Worked with Tim  

Posted: February 2nd, 2013 3:34 PM

As someone who also worked with Tim over the last few years (not quite 12 years), I've seen some picking on him, but it was fairly harmless--they (custodians) would all pick on each other, usually jokingly. Perhaps what made Tim slightly more of a target was that he was often cited for under-performing. I can see how tensions could have risen recently, but I can't see these death threats being anything but a poor way to let off some frustration he was feeling. Too bad things had to end this way.

Ex- Staff from Brookfield  

Posted: February 2nd, 2013 10:04 AM

As a person who worked with Tim for the last 12 years, i dont know where that person would get this that he was being picked on for the last two years.I for one can say people went out of their way to help and work with him. I am sad to hear what happened with Tim and wish him well.

mike slinkman from countryside  

Posted: February 2nd, 2013 2:56 AM

i'm tim's landlord, the tim i know wouldn't hurt a FLY. my brother is friends with him and the times i met him he had a "dry and odd" sense of humor, which i also happen to have and i thought he was funny. i didn't let the cops in, they must have had a warrent. its a very difficult situation because of tragedies like sandyhook, and the times we are living in, but people are kidding themselves if they don't think schools AND cops would go "overboard" to make themselves look good. tim, good luck.

Student from Riverside  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 9:57 PM

Im not saying that this man is bad or not. Im not judging him on his appearance. All im saying is if something happened and the employees didn't report it, im sure they'd feel extra bad, even worse then they do for reporting him in the first place. I also know most of you that are sticking up for this man are family, and friends.>Bear from Chicago<, Don't judge him by appearance, but judge me on where im from?.. whats the difference? Your obviously a friend of this insane guy.<< Bear+Tim=2idiots

The Bear from Chicago  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 1:19 PM

So before you say oh this guy guilty because the staff said so and he's got long hair and a beard. Unless u know the person don't assume he is!! Not everyone like you born with a silver spoon in there mouth and can afford to wear high end clothes and have mommy and daddy support them like some people.

The Bear from Chicago  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 1:14 PM

Hey student first of all did you know his co workers where being cruel to him for the last 2 years trying to get him fired? Did u know that woman co worker been bogus to him since day one? Also Tim collects antiques? So when he goes to estate sales you get things in boxes and you think he throw out ammo so some kids can find it?

Student from Riverside  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 12:42 PM

Ok well obviously this man didnt have a valid FOID card. Which theres probly a reason for, and what if this man bought the 138 rounds of ammo to plan some horrific act. And with threats on peoples lives, you want to wait see if he's bluffing?? All i know is i'd be thanking the people that reported this man. Something terrible could have happen, and im sure these co-employees prevent 138 people from getting injured or even killed. And in a school environment> i wouldnt want my child at SE gross.<

mike from Brookfield  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 12:37 PM

Hey you all with the red flags let me tell you. This school is a bad place to send your kids I went there and can say I was bullied all the time teachers didnt go out of there way to stop or any of the other staff and they didnt stop kids for being cruel either. Mentally it did a toll on myself because of this I didn't go as far as I could of with my education. The only red flags I see is the staff there. Also I remember Tim from high school I never was friends with him but was nice guy.


Posted: February 1st, 2013 11:43 AM

With a valid FOID card the possession of ammunition is NOT a crime.Regardless of the amount.What may be a red flag to you may be perfectly legal.God forbid we start arresting everyone on "hearsay" evidence.everyone could go jail.

Mary Ann from Brookfield  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 11:23 AM

I understand having ammunition is not a crime. I agree. But, 138 rounds of different types of ammunition, threats to employees, and at a public school where children attend, as a parent that sends RED flags.


Posted: February 1st, 2013 6:10 AM

Student from Riverside.Ever hear of Drew Peterson?A "hear say"law was created with his name on it.Doubt law school is in your future.Police and District attorneys overstep their authority all the time.Keeping ammunition without a firearm in Illinois is not a crime with a valid FOID card.

Student from Riverside  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 9:44 PM

All you people that believe that this was somehow a set-up. You all are total idiots; a couple of words aint enough to throw this man behind bars. Hear-say has never been enough to throw any individual behind bars. Obviously there is more to the story then you guys know. Besides people may joke around at work once in a while, but obviously what this creep (Tim) said was more then just joking around.> How many people keep bullets around without a firearm. And its a collection>>??>> definitly not

Ames and Gross  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 7:55 PM

Ames, not Hauser....

Hauser and Gross  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 7:54 PM

It seems Hauser's and Gross's tactics are very similar.......they fire innocent people because they don't play the game.

S.Vernon from McCook  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 5:02 PM

Tim would never do anything of this nature. This was most likely a labor issue that was spun to get Tim fired. Well it worked but the problem is an innocent man is sitting in jail with a bond that's unrealistic because a few of his coworkers wanted him out. I hope the truth comes out from this set up and the people that did this to Tim are brought to justice. God sees everything and the truth will come out. Hang in their Tim. We all know a set up when we see one!

Joe Dirt from Riverside  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 4:38 PM

Sounds like Tim has a real case here. Hopefully justice will prevail.

The Bear from Chicago  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 12:46 AM

Ya your right anyone that knows him knows he's a collector of old things. Plus what are they saying if your work in a school you can't have ammo or a gun at your place of residents? He didn't have the ammo on him at school grounds.

William from Brookfield  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 7:55 PM

The various types of ammo that were found were 1. Empty Shells and 2. Ammo for Antique guns that are over 100 years old. 3. he didnt even own any fire arms. Anyone who knows tim knows he's a scrapper / Collector of unique things. And for people who dont understand the defintion of Antique here it is. An antique (Latin: antiquus; old) is an old collectable item. It is collected or desirable because of its age (see definition), beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 6:59 PM

I've known Tim for years also.Theres no way in heck he did any of this bunk.This kid would'nt hurt a flee.Maybe,with the right attorney he can sue the school and everyone involved for trying to smear his reputation.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 4:54 PM

i am so tired of high-strung women (and i am a woman) getting away with getting people in trouble because they don't like them and can harassment. we crack jokes all the time at work, and it would be frustrating if we had to worry about being tossed in jail. i know tim. he isn't going to kill anyone. people are so quick to lawyer up and freak out over every little comment they don't like. gah!

Sherlock from London, UK  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 4:47 PM

I found it pecular he had some much ammunition from different style firearms, but doesn't own a firearm? Did the officers investigating his apartment bring a small bag of extra ammo they retrieved from the evidence closet? hmmmm /scratching chin....

Marcel Proust  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 3:22 PM

Why are there so many people who think this was all a devious plot to oust Tim from his job? You honestly would put that on three other custodians who you have ZERO information about, rather than believe that maybe, just maybe, some of the information in this story could have actually happened? I'm not saying this story is entirely accurate but these comments are sensationalist rubbish. Think before you speak.


Posted: January 30th, 2013 11:44 AM

Not sure Tim will get his job back but any 1st year law student should get the charges dropped.Also sounds like an illegal search of his apartment.

The Bear from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 8:19 AM

Hey freedom rocker that's very mature of you making comments like that. Grow up you know how gross school politics work.

Cha-Ching from Riverside  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 6:23 AM

It must have been ommitted......but is the Principal Joesph Stalin's Nephew......or a coincidence they that share Discipline Guidelines.......any Labor or Civil Rights Lawyer will eat this case up.......

William from Brookfield  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 3:13 AM

I love how people are so quick to judge someone they dont know and base everything on looks and apperance. I graduated from this sorry excuse of a school they never 1 time every fired a teacher or any of the other staff when there were affairs going on in the school. But then when they finally do they throw an innocent man in jail cause some of his co-workers set him up. And on top of it the union does not back him at all this is a outrage!

Freedom Rocker from Brookfield  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 12:44 AM

I can't believe they didn't find any hashish with all of the ammo. Or maybe the gun was used as a pot pipe. Think about it? :p

Jerry Thomas from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 4:38 PM

Jason probably not I'm sure they already had someone in mind before setting up Tim

jason umbs from brookfield  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 4:15 PM

Is there a job opening

Space Cowboy from North Riverside  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 2:06 PM

His co workers should be a shame of themselves for putting an innocent man in jail. You can tell by reading this article this was a set up.

The Bear from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 8:59 AM

I think he got framed I know gross school doesn't stop kids to bully others so why wouldn't they then frame a co worker? He had 12 years in why would he blow his pension? Think about that!

jessica from riverside  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 9:36 PM

i used to go to school there ......... that guy is a whack job and all my friends always thought he was creepy

Ralph McDarmont from Chatttnooga TN  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 3:23 PM

Looks are often deceiving but he certainly looks crazy and it is disturbing he worked 12 years within the district. Pay attention parents.

Spiney Norman from Brookfield  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 2:42 PM

138 rounds of amunition but no guns; yeah, Right!

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