By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Community reactions are varied in the aftermath of the arrest of three Moffat County High School students for allegedly planning to bomb the school and the Moffat County Courthouse.
The county will not be implementing any additional security measures, the school won't discuss the issue, student opinion about the situation is diverse and a mother of one of the accused youths has labeled the arrests as an "overreaction."
"They all maintain their innocence," said the mother of one of the arrested students, who would only speak on the record anonymously. "Two of these boys are very active in their churches. One of the boys is working on an Eagle Scout project, and on the Sunday before they were arrested, one boy sang in his church choir, which he has been singing with for several years. Two of the three boys have never been in any trouble with the law.
"I understand the school and the police and the Sheriff's Office have a responsibility to do what they need to do for the community, but this is a big overreaction."
According to the mother, on Friday the Craig Police Department will present some of the evidence from this case to the parents. None of the parents have yet to see any of the files or any evidence concerned with the alleged bombing plan.
"Everyone who has called us who know the boys say they can't imagine them doing anything like that," she said. "They could see the boys maybe spouting off and saying something stupid, but not doing something like that. The police overreacted."
The Moffat County Courthouse will not be implementing enhanced security measures because of the arrests, and county employees are conducting business as usual.
Robert Cooper, a janitor at the courthouse, said the plan didn't make sense.
"I have kind of a weird feeling," Cooper said. "It does make me mad, though. I will never understand why people want to blow things up."
Some agencies within the courthouse are working through the threats just as they have with similar situations in the past.
"There is always concern," said Diana Myer, county court clerk. "We have received threats in the past from defendants, but we have to do our job. We have to continue on."
Myer learned of the threats when she processed the arrest warrants for the three boys.
"We won't be adding any additional security measures," said Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos. "We met with [Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg], and the Sheriff's Office does not see a need for any changes. We will continue with the heightened awareness, as we've been since the Sept. 11 attacks. We're confident that our security measures are fine. We just need to be vigilant about our safety."
The courthouse has recently been equipped with panic buttons in each office that will send an alarm to the Moffat County Sheriff's Office in the case of any emergency.
MCHS Principal Jane Krogman would not discuss if the school would be making any security adjustments or improvements. Assistant Julie Baker also could not comment on any possible changes, but wanted to make clear the issue is important to the administration.
"We are thinking about the future," Baker said. "On the forefront of our minds is providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students and staff."
Holly Sperry, 16, a MCHS student, won't be going to school with any changed attitudes.
"[The arrests] don't make me feel any different about going to school. I knew something like this could happen anywhere," she said. "I'm not really going to see things differently."
Matt Leach, a senior at the school, said he was not surprised the threats were allegedly made.
"I figured someone would do this," Leach said. "But I just think it is someone who is being pretty stupid and doesn't have anything else to do."
When classes resume at the high school, Leach doesn't expect much to change.
"I don't think it will be any different," he said. "If something would ever happen, I just hope that I am not in the building."
Krista Decker, who is also a student at the school, said the threats are frightening, and she is surprised that the allegations involve two classmates she knows well.
"School is going to be different," she said.
For Teniel Jayne, a junior at MCHS, the alleged plan to bomb the school will have a more pronounced impact because she is friends with the three arrested students.
"I don't look at the school differently, as in if it's safe or not safe, but I will look at the people involved differently," Jayne said. "I knew all of them, and considered them friends. They were the last people you'd expect this from.
"At first I was shocked about what had happened, but it also could be that they could have said things they shouldn't have. That's something they need to be more aware of the things that you say, and who you say it to.
"I don't know all the facts, I wasn't there. But I don't think this is something they would have gone through with
The three suspects were arrested Dec. 21. Two of the boys were arrested at the school, Craig Police Chief Walter Vanatta said. Vanatta said investigators started to focus on the boys after a student, who was allegedly threatened, approached a patrol officer, who relayed the information to the school's resource officer.
"In this sort of case, we take a proactive approach," Vanatta said. "We are still doing the follow-up investigation."
The boys are being held at the Grand Mesa Juvenile Corrections Facility in Grand Junction. According to Vanatta, the boys are being held in Grand Junction because it is the closest juvenile facility.
"Young people today handle issues differently," Vanatta said. "When I was growing up, we would have never thought of bringing a gun to school. We have to view all these issues very carefully."