Eye witness accounts vary in Caseyville mayor death threat case; Judge: 'Appears to be war of words'

By Record News | Oct 12, 2016

In three accounts of the crime Brad Van Hoose of Belleville allegedly committed, he threatened to kill Caseyville Mayor Leonard Black, or to kill Black and Illinois House candidate Bob Romanik, or to kill everyone.  

Van Hoose faces trial on Nov. 3, on a felony charge of threatening a public official.

Records that special prosecutor David Rands produced to him show that Caseyville detective Andy Reel trusted Black’s reaction more than his memory.  

Records also show how Black’s story has shifted and how Romanik’s role has grown.  

Black called Caseyville police on Friday, April 15.  

Detective Andy Reel questioned Black and wrote in an incident report that, “Black was meeting Robert Romanik for coffee at the South Main Diner when Bradley Van Hoose began yelling and cussing at Leonard and Robert.”  

“Bradley got on his motorcycle and yelled, ‘I’m going to kill everyone,’” Reel wrote.  

Reel didn’t report whether Black heard the words, or Romanik, or both.  

“Leonard stated that he is in fear for his life,” Reel wrote. “Leonard is not sure what Bradley is capable of.”  

Later that day he wrote in a preliminary report that Black said Van Hoose told him he was going to kill him.  

Reel wrote that Romanik said he observed Van Hoose yelling at Black, and that Van Hoose yelled at both of them that he was going to kill everyone.  

Black prepared a petition for an emergency protective order.  

“Began yelling and cursing me,” Black wrote. “Yelled I’m going to kill everyone.”  

His petition didn’t identify Romanik or anyone else as a witness.  

On Monday, April 18, Associate Judge Julie Hormberg denied the petition.  

Reel interviewed Black again on Tuesday, April 19.  

“Leonard stated that Brad said he was going to kill both of them,” Reel wrote. “Leonard is concerned that Brad is going to harm him and his family.”  

Reel wrote that Black wished for charges to be filed.  

The interview lasted 20 minutes.  

Reel interviewed Romanik later that day, and Romanik took charge as star witness.  

“Robert did not see the initial confrontation with Brad and Leonard,” Reel wrote.   

That didn’t match Black’s statement to Reel on the previous Friday, that Van Hoose began yelling at both of them.  

Romanik scrapped Black’s statement that Van Hoose threatened to kill everyone, and he substituted direct personal threats.  

“Robert heard Brad say, ‘I will kill you, Leonard Black,’” Reel wrote.   

“Brad saw Robert. Brad said, ‘I will kill you too.  

“Brad said, ‘Do not talk about me on the radio. I will kill you.  

“Robert stated that Brad is a bully.”  

Romanik told Reel he is aggressive on radio but not that way in public.

  The interview lasted 52 minutes.  

On Thursday, April 21, diner employee Sherry Robinson told Reel she overheard Romanik say, “What is that guy yelling about?”  

Robinson told Reel that Romanik said that guy just threatened to kill them.  

Reel wrote that she didn’t know the individual and she heard no threats.  

Reel also interviewed Robert Ebner, owner of Jessi’s bar behind the diner.  

Ebner said Van Hoose was a patron, and he remembered him leaving the bar.  

“Bob did not observe the incident,” Reel wrote.   

On Sept. 23, grand jurors indicted Van Hoose on a felony charge of threatening a public official.  

At his arraignment on Sept. 30, Chief Judge John Baricevic said, “It appears to be a war of words at this point.”

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Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois Village of Caseyville

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