By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Felony charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and participation in terrorist training activities were filed on Thursday against three Moffat County High School students.
Tony Jacob, 16, Tommy Elam, 15, and Stephen Jackman, 17, were arrested Dec. 21 in connection with an alleged plan to bomb the high school and the Moffat County Courthouse. Jacob was also charged with felony harassment/stalking.
State statutes require the release of the identity of juveniles facing charges that would be a felony if committed by an adult.
Jacob, Elam and Jackman are still in custody at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center. Bond is set at $50,000 each.
According to Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta, the police are conducting a precautionary search of the high school. The search should be completed by Thursday morning.
"We don't believe we'll find anything," he said. "We have no evidence to indicate there was a device planted in the school."
The three students have been suspended from school pending a pre-expulsion hearing. The hearing will be based on the ongoing investigation, and will proceed independently of the court process, Moffat County Interim School Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.
"We will proceed on a different time line, depending on how quickly the court case comes about," he said.
According to Bergmann, the schools will not be adding or adjusting any of their security measures or policies.
"Basically, we feel we have solid procedures in place," he said. "Those procedures lead to the prevention of this incident. We have implemented a variety of policies in recent years, and we will continue to make safety a priority in the schools."
Vanatta also defended the actions of both the school district and the police department against assertions that the arrests were an overreaction.
"Number one, we feel we didn't overreact. The actions taken were justified by the investigation," Vanatta said. "However, if there is going to be a reaction in situation like this, I would rather overreact than underreact. Had we not taken any action, that could have ended up being a problem too. The biggest complaint from the Columbine parents was that the police underreacted.
"As long as we have the grounds, we will take the actions appropriate to insure the safety of a group. If we're going to be viewed as overreacting, so be it. We only react to what people do our reaction was based on the actions of these kids. The parents need to understand that if their children hadn't done this, they wouldn't be where they are. Parents need to be responsible about what their children get involved with."
"We can't have a wait-and-see attitude about these things," Craig Police Lieutenant John Forgay said.
The police department is requesting that anyone who has knowledge related to the activities of Jacob, Elam and Jackman contact Forgay at 826-2360.
Jacob, Elam and Jackman will appear in court for an advisory hearing Jan. 7.