Wilmette, News

Custodian reportedly wields knife during argument with colleagues at New Trier High School

A New Trier High School custodian was arrested after reportedly threatening two colleagues with a knife on Friday, Feb. 9, in otherwise empty classrooms on the school’s Winnetka campus.

In an email to district families on Tuesday, Feb. 13, which was forwarded to The Record, New Trier Superintendent Dr. Paul Sally detailed the incident, during which no students were present and no one was injured, he wrote.

According to Sally’s email, three custodial staff members got into a verbal altercation during after-school cleaning around 4:15 p.m. The discussion escalated and one of the custodians grabbed a knife from a nearby “kitchenette,” which the school further described as a feature in an employee break room, and wielded it in the direction of the others.

Another New Trier staff member intervened and helped de-escalate the situation, while police were on their way to the scene, Sally wrote. Dizon said the good Samaritan did not wish to be identified.

The incident occurred on the school’s west side, and no students were nearby, according to Niki Dizon, New Trier’s communications director.

Sally said the arrested custodian is barred from New Trier grounds and the district’s School Board recommended his dismissal. He added that the custodian was a long-term employee who passed background checks and no prior incidents on file.

According to a Winnetka police report, the custodian was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and another of unlawful restraint, the latter of which, according to Winnetka police, is related to the incident’s victims feeling unable to leave the room while the alleged offender held the weapon.

The Record does not publish the names of arrested individuals who are named in preliminary police reports unless the incident is a matter of immediate public safety or has significant community implications.

“We wish to emphasize that this was an isolated incident that was handled quickly by administrators and the police department,” Sally wrote. “We are grateful to the staff member who intervened in the altercation and helped restore calm to an intense situation.

He added, “Our priority remains the safety and security of everyone on campus, and we continually review our procedures to provide the highest level of safety possible.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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