Professor arrested for assault with spray paint


Nicholas Stewart, Editor-in-chief

A Western Illinois University professor has been charged with assault after allegedly trying to spray another employee with spray paint following additional acts of vandalism.

Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) Professor Chris Lantz, 50, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal damage to state-supported property.

According to Darcie Shinberger of University Relations, the reason for the outburst may be related to “possible curricular changes within his department.”

Shinberger said the alleged incident began when Lantz, who has been teaching at Western since 1988, began spray-painting profanity on four doors in the IDT office suite. Another individual, who has not been identified, saw Lantz painting the door.

“I do not know if there is a direct correlation between the alleged assault and the individual witnessing the spray painting of the doors,” Shinberger said. “According to the police report, the individual did not speak to Dr. Lantz, nor did the individual intervene.”

The individual assaulted was not injured.

The Western Courier obtained the incident report through a Freedom of Information Act request — what Lantz painted has been redacted from the report. The report does however paint a picture of what allegedly happened Friday morning when the Office of Public Safety (OPS) responded to Horrabin Hall.

The individual that was assaulted told officers while sitting at his or her desk, the individual “smelled the odor of paint” and heard a “strange sound.” The individual then observed Lantz holding a can of spray paint. Lantz painted on the doors of other offices before pointing the can at the individual. Lantz then “distributed a burst of paint” toward the individual. Lantz finally proceeded to throw the can at the individual before leaving the building. The can landed at the individual’s feet.

An hour and two minutes following the original dispatch, officers arrived at Lantz’ home with a warrant for his arrest. He was told he was under arrest for criminal damage to state supported property and aggravated assault. He was then transported to McDonough County Jail.

According to the report, physical plant staff later arrived to clean up the spray paint. The superintendent of building maintenance estimated the damage to be at $448.

Lantz was teaching four classes at Western — IDT 240, IDT 340, IDT 360 and IDT 406. Emails were sent to students in those classes Tuesday morning. The email stated, “We are hoping to have someone finish teaching these classes for the semester, and will let you know the status of your class as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Those classes were cancelled Tuesday.

Shinberger said adjunct professors currently employed at Western will be covering those courses.

Lantz has been placed on paid leave and will remain so until further notice.

“He does not have access to Horrabin Hall or his office, and he is not allowed to be on campus until further notice,” Shinberger said.

Shinberger also said that OPS is conducting “increased patrols” covering the building.