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Former Fountain Valley School employee pleads guilty in smoke bomb plot

September 14, 2017 Updated: September 15, 2017 at 6:33 am
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A former Fountain Valley School employee pleaded guilty Thursday in a father-son plot to ignite a smoke bomb in the school cafeteria.

Bryan S. Bolding, 46, could serve 1-3 years in prison, though he is also eligible for probation. A probationary sentence could include up to 90 days in jail or a commitment to work release.

A former technology worker at the elite private school in Security-Widefield, Bolding was arrested in May less than two weeks from graduation day. Authorities say he had recently learned he was losing his job and plotted with his 16-year-old son to pull off a "prank" meant to induce terror.

The scheme fizzled, however, thanks to a cafeteria worker who noticed the device next to the salad bar - then watched as Bolding's son, a student, turned "white" and ran off holding something in his hand. Authorities said that object was an igniter. A bomb squad was called out to collect the devices and render them safe.

Bolding's son faces multiple juvenile citations, which are pending. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Monday, court records show.

In acknowledging his guilt, the elder Bolding, wearing a suit, told 4th Judicial District Judge Scott Sells that he placed the smoke bomb in the cafeteria.

He pleaded guilty to a single count of menacing, a felony, and prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, and two felonies alleging a hoax involving an explosive device.

The deal also means Bolding will not receive 36 weapons that were seized from his on-campus residence during the investigation. Instead, the guns will be auctioned off through a licensed firearms dealer and Bolding will receive the proceeds.

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.

Authorities say Bolding and his son initially planned to disrupt the school's graduation ceremonies but instead decided to target the cafeteria in advance. Bolding selected the salad bar because it was near ventilation fans where the most people would be seated, officials said.

Bolding remains free on $50,000 bond and lives in Oklahoma, where he has family. Judge Sells also will permit Bolding to have unsupervised visits of his son, assuming the younger Bolding's judge also approves.

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