A Fountain Valley School employee accused of planting a homemade smoke bomb in the school's cafeteria learned he was losing his job before he and his son decided to play a "prank" Tuesday, court documents show.
Bryan S. Bolding, 46, and his 16-year-old son said they'd been planning it for weeks and tested a version of the smoke bomb the day before in the parking lot at 302 Main St. in the Security/Widefield area. The bomb squad recovered that suspicious device, court records confirmed.
Bolding told police his goal was "just to set off a smoke bomb," but his son said they wanted to cause "terror and panic," records say.
The two were arrested on felony charges of terrorist training activities, conspiracy, attempting to influence a public servant, possession and use of a hoax incendiary device and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as well as charges of reckless endangerment, child abuse without injury and several counts of felony menacing.
The duo initially planned to set off the smoke bomb at the May 27 graduation ceremony, which would have filled the tent with four canisters worth of smoke. But they later decided to target the cafeteria, records show. An "all school" assembly was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, meaning students and staff would be filing in to lunch together.
The private, independent college preparatory school serves about 235 students in ninth through 12th grades on its 1,100-acre central campus at 6155 Fountain Valley School Road. About 153 students live on campus, the school's website says.
Bolding said he planted the smoke bomb next to the salad bar Monday night, near ventilation fans where the most people would be seated. His son carried the detonator Tuesday.
The bomb never had a chance to go off, though, after a staff member found it and removed the battery, records said. As the employee walked with the bomb out of the cafeteria, Bolding's son reportedly turned "white" and ran away with an object in his hand.
The teen later told police Bolding had been teaching him how to build smoke bombs for two weeks. He said he had similar devices, switches and parts in his car, but said none was dangerous.
Bolding had been told in February that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the year, records say. He'd been the school's information technology director for the past three years.
Bolding and his son also lived in housing on Fountain Valley's campus.
Head of School William V. Webb said Bolding was allowed to return to campus Wednesday to get his belongings after he posted $3,000 bond, but then was escorted off the property. Bolding will be barred from returning to the school, and more security measures are in place to safeguard students and staff through the remainder of the year, Webb said in a post on the school's website.
It was not clear if Bolding's son remains a student on campus. The school's communications director declined to answer questions Wednesday.
Bolding previously lived in Oklahoma City, where he was information technology director at Heritage Hall, a private elementary and high school, for more than eight years, his LinkedIn page shows. He has held various other technology-based jobs, and from 1989 to 1991, he served as an Army paratrooper, the page shows.
His social media presence includes a YouTube channel dedicated to hunting and outdoor gear.
In his Twitter biography, he described himself as a "Colorado guy that enjoys sharing my love and passion for the great outdoors and traditional archery!"
Bolding could not be reached for comment.
The Gazette's Ellie Mulder contributed to this report.
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