Dallastown student accused of making threats released on lowered bail
A Dallastown Area High School senior accused of making threats at the school earlier this month was released from prison Friday after a judge reduced his $225,000 bail.
Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook on Friday, March 16, ordered Brandon Jamal Thompson, 18, released under supervised bail without requiring him to post any money.
His attorney, Chris Ferro, argued in a motion that Thompson's bail being set so high was "effectively refusing to set bail."
During Thompson's bail hearing Friday, Cook allowed Thompson to be released on bail. Although he wasn't required to post money, Thompson will be supervised by York County Probation.
"I'm so glad to have my son home," Kimberly Elliott, Thompson's mother, said after the hearing.
Thompson, of Chambers Ridge Drive in York Township, remains charged with one count of making terroristic threats. York Area Regional Police say Thompson threatened to shoot teachers and students on March 1.
Motion: In Ferro's motion, he said that Thompson, a senior at the school, has no criminal history, no history of violence, no substance abuse issues and no history of mental illness.
Additionally, Ferro wrote that Thompson has never previously been released on bail and has no record of flight or escape. Ferro also said Thompson had never had any issues at the school prior to the incident on March 1.
"Imposing $225,000 bail in this case is effectively refusing to set bail, as the Defendant nor his family have the financial means to post the necessary collateral to allow him to be released while his charge is pending," Ferro wrote.
The attorney said allowing the high school student to remain incarcerated on a charge that will likely result in a time-served sentence or probation is "unconscionable" and a "complete miscarriage of justice."
District Judge Scott Laird set bail at $225,000 during Thompson's initial arraignment.
On Friday, Laird declined comment, saying that judicial rules of conduct prohibit him from discussing pending cases.
Hearing: During Friday's hearing, RJ Fisher, an attorney at Ferro's firm who was there in Ferro's place, argued those points again.
"I think that keeping him incarcerated isn't helping him or anybody else," Fisher told Cook.
Senior deputy prosecutor Justin Roberts asked that if Thompson were to be released, he would be placed on GPS monitoring. Cook agreed with that and set that as part of Thompson's bail condition.
Thompson was released Friday to his mother's custody and was ordered not to have contact with Dallastown Area School District.
Kimberly Elliot had created a GoFundMe account a day earlier seeking to raise money for her son's bail.
As of Sunday, the GoFundMe had raised $3,795. In an update on the site, she said the money raised would be going Thompson's home monitoring system and legal fees.
Fisher read a statement Friday afternoon saying that he appreciates Cook's determination.
"Brandon, his family, attorney Ferro and myself are relieved that Judge Cook granted our bail modification request and that Brandon will be able to go home tonight and deal with this difficult situation surrounded by the love and support of his family," he said.
Fisher declined to answer questions regarding the case.
Background: According to charging documents, Thompson was overheard about 9:15 a.m. March 1 yelling at a student, "Don't come to school tomorrow," and a witness alerted school staff.
School administrators immediately detained Thompson and alerted York Area Regional Police, according to a statement from the school district.
Police spoke with students with whom Thompson rode to school the morning of March 1 and were told that in the vehicle Thompson said that one day, someone was going to "push his buttons to the max," charging documents allege.
He then allegedly said, "I'm going to come to school tomorrow with a gun, and teachers are the first victims," documents state.
Once at the school and walking through the lot to the building, Thompson pointed out another student and said, "that's going to be my first victim," documents allege.
After walking inside the building, Thompson raised his hands and made a shooting gesture at a group of students about 7:30 a.m., according to charging documents.
Police interviewed Thompson shortly before noon March 1. He told them he had heard about threats being made in other school districts and "thought it would be a joke to say it," according to documents.
Asked about the student he had pointed out and allegedly identified as his first victim, Thompson told officers that if he really wanted to shoot the boy, he would have done it already, documents state.
One of his parents told officers that Thompson had seemed depressed for several weeks, according to police.
About 12:30 p.m., a handcuffed Thompson was led from the school to a police cruiser, documents state.
School response: Dallastown Area School District has suspended Thompson, according to an online message to students' families from Superintendent Ronald Dyer and high school Principal Zachary Fletcher.
A recommendation has been made to expel him from school, according to that online statement.
There was no interruption to the school day, the district said.
Other bails: In York County, three people have been charged with threats directed at schools.
Ethan Michael Wilson, 18, allegedly talked to his fellow South Western High School students about shooting up the school on Feb. 15, Penn Township Police said. Wilson also talked about making pressure-cooker bombs, according to officials. He remains free on $10,000 unsecured bail.
Brennen Michael Shenk, 18, is accused of threatening to bring two rocket launchers to Eastern York High School and "blow it up," on Feb. 26, according to Lower Windsor Township Police. He was released on his own recognizance.
Jacob Chirichello, 18, sent a message saying "There is a bomb in the school," to Eastern York School District's SafeSchools alert program on March 9, Wrightsville Police said. All five district schools evacuated as a result of the message, according to the district. He remains free after posting $15,000 bail.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.