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Army vet sentenced to probation for threats against a Catholic school in Chicago; will get treatment from VA

(DuPage County Sheriff's Office)

An Army veteran from Massachusetts with a troubled mental health history was sentenced to probation Thursday in DuPage County for leaving a threatening message on an answering machine at a Catholic school in Naperville and for threatening two Wheaton public safety employees.

William MacKinnon, 49, was directed to report for treatment to a Veterans Administration facility, either in Illinois or Massachusetts, upon his imminent release from the DuPage County jail, where he has been held since his arrest in April 2017.

MacKinnon pleaded guilty in May to making a false report of a threat to a school building or person and to a charge of threatening a public official.

Authorities said McKinnon left a threatening, four-minute, profanity-laced message in February 2017 on an answering machine at St. Raphael School. According to court records, MacKinnon threatened to “terrorize” the school and its staff and teach them “a … lesson.’’ The recording also contained a threat against Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, records show.

At the time of his arrest for the school threat, McKinnon had pending charges for leaving threatening messages with a Wheaton fire department official and a police officer. The Naperville and Wheaton cases were combined in court.

Authorities said MacKinnon had previously been involved with a woman who lived in the Wheaton area, and they had a connection to the Naperville school.

MacKinnon apologized before Judge Liam Brennan imposed the sentence. His attorney, Jeff Fawell, said MacKinnon did not recall leaving the message at the school.

“He feels beyond terrible for what happened here,” Fawell told the judge. “When he heard a recording of (the message) he was appalled. He said, ‘That’s my voice.’”

MacKinnon served 20 years in the U.S. Army after enlisting at 17. He developed severe diabetes and began having mental health troubles after being stationed in Kuwait in 2003, the attorney said.

The trouble eventually forced his retirement from the Army. He was stationed in Alaska at retirement and spent a period on the streets before his military benefits became available, Fawell said.

The judge said that he was willing, based on MacKinnon’s lack of previous criminal record and his military career, to fashion a sentence that gives MacKinnon a chance to get help.

“You’ve put a lot of people up against the wall and it’s up to you to follow through,” Brennan told him.

The judge set a status date for next week and a 90-day follow-up to ensure that MacKinnon is maintaining his treatment plan.


© 2018 the Chicago Tribune

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