Teen Guilty in Greendale Bomb Threat
High school senior charged with making the threat to stop homecoming pleaded guilty today.
High school senior Nicholas Olson admitted in court today that he wrote the threatening message in a bathroom that prompted school officials to move the homecoming dance to the middle school.
He pleaded guilty Thursday in Milwaukee Circuit Court.
The threat, "3 DAYS TILL BOOM JK OR AM I?", was found on the wall of a bathroom stall Sept. 20. As a precaution the homecoming dance on Sept. 22 was moved to an alternate location in the middle school. In addition, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s bomb-sniffing dogs conducted searches of the school campus.
During the ensuing investigation, court records state Olson told police he penned the threat in an attempt to disrupt homecoming activities because "he was upset and angry." Police also said "he did not have a plan to use any explosive device and further that he did not want to hurt anyone."
When asked Thursday by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Daniel Konkol to describe the crime in his own words, Olson said, "I wrote a message in the bathroom."
"And that message could be clearly taken as threats of violence?" Konkol asked.
"Yes," Olson said.
Police originally recommended a felony charge against Olson, but the District Attorney's Office, after consulting with Greendale administrators, chose to issue the misdemeanor instead.
Police and district officials believe bullying by fellow high school students—including being voted onto homecoming court as a prank—were at least part of the motive in this situation.
The officer knows Olson has been bullied, "teased and taunted by his classmates for many years," according to the criminal complaint, and that he had "just been voted onto the homecoming court as a 'joke' by other students." The officer said something similar happened during last school year's prom.
Police said Olson reported being teased all his life, and the investigating officer said he is "aware that the defendant is ostracized by the other students and appears very depressed due to the situation," according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint states a district representative told the assistant district attorney who prepared the complaint that they agreed "the defendant should not be charged with a felony but rather a misdemeanor due to the extenuating circumstances which may have led to his conduct."
The incident has prompted discussion about bullying at Greendale High School. The school district has formed a task force to address the issue and a local, anti-bullying non-profit has also been formed.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending one year of probation for Olson with mental health counseling, community service with restitution and no contact with Greendale High School.
However, final sentencing is determined by the judge, who could sentence Olson up to the maximum for the charge: 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Olson will return to court Feb. 8 for sentencing.