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Cross Lanes school custodian in custody

CROSS LANES, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County Schools employee has been arrested and charged with making "terroristic threats" after he talked about making gas bombs.

The man was upset this week because other employees at the school had received Walmart gift certificates but he had not, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Police apprehended 51-year-old Bruce Edward Stanley, a custodian at Cross Lanes Elementary, when he arrived at the school Thursday afternoon after making remarks about creating gas bombs, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.

Cross Lanes Elementary Principal Vanessa Brown, however, said Stanley was taken into police custody at his home before his shift was to begin Thursday.

She said Stanley directed a "vague" verbal threat at other employees at the school regarding gas bombs Wednesday.

Stanley had talked about bombs around at least three school employees, including cook Robin Redman, according to the criminal complaint.

Stanley came into the cafeteria Wednesday and told Redman he was upset because teachers at the school received Wal-Mart gift certificates for outstanding performance, and he did not get one, according to the complaint.

Redman had joked about what she was going to buy with her gift card and Stanley replied that he would buy a "gas bomb," according to the complaint.

Stanley then asked if anyone had seen a "gas bomb go off," Redman told police. Redman said she's afraid of Stanley because of past aggressive behavior and that Stanley later said it was "coming down," according to the complaint.

Jacqulynn Thomas, head cook, also heard the conversation about the gift cards. According to the complaint, Thomas heard Stanley talk about 9/11 and about bombs before saying he "was serious" and "what would happen if one went off in here?"

Police also spoke with Robert Nasby, Stanley's supervisor, who said Stanley had asked him if he had ever made bombs before, according to the complaint.

Police officers searched the school building with a bomb-sniffing dog after a 911 call reporting the threat at about 11 a.m. Thursday, according to a Metro 911 dispatcher.

The school did not have to be evacuated but was placed on a very brief lockdown as a precaution, Brown said.

All interior and exterior doors typically stay locked at the school, according to Brown. She said that, instead of announcing the lockdown situation school-wide, she notified each teacher individually, so students would not become alarmed.

The bomb-sniffing dog did "a quick sweep" of the building as a precautionary measure, but nothing was found, Brown said.

"At no point were the children in any danger," she said. "We had lots of [phone calls] asking why didn't we evacuate, and the real reason is because there wasn't a real threat."

Stanley currently does not have access to the building, Brown said.

Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent in charge of elementary schools for Kanawha County, said that as soon as administrators were contacted about the problem, police were at the school "within minutes."

Roberts cautioned that the alleged threat was not a typical, direct bomb threat.

"It wasn't a bomb threat. A bomb threat is when somebody calls and says there's actually a bomb in the building. This was a statement more like, 'One of these days, I could do this,'" she said. "We contacted the police, and they came and searched the building and determined everything was safe."

The way Kanawha County Schools deals with its employees when he or she is charged with crimes depends on the offense, according to the school district's attorney, Jim Withrow.

"Our policy provides that, if an employee is arrested and charged with an offense, that could ultimately lead to their dismissal, depending on the offense," Withrow said. "The policy allows the superintendent to recommend suspension without pay, pending the outcome of criminal charges."

Stanley was arraigned and was being held in the South Central Regional Jail on a $25,000 cash-only bail.

Brown said many parents were concerned after hearing news reports and wanted to check their children out of school. Brown said she hopes that, in the future, there will be better communication between school officials and families.

"When there's a situation where there's a crisis in a school, we are unlikely to notify the public of that crisis immediately, because it's more unsafe to have strangers to come in and out of the building," Brown said. "If there are lots of adults in the building, it creates a more unsafe situation for the students."

Staff writer Travis Crum contributed. Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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