The 18-year-old who allegedly made threats that shuttered San Gabriel Elementary School in Atascadero for two weeks in September entered no plea at his arraignment Friday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
He will be back in court next month.
Bret Stephen Landen, of Atascadero, is facing 30 felony counts including 27 counts of threatening to use violence, one count of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and two counts of second-degree commercial burglary.
On Friday, Landen appeared before Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Duffy, who continued the hearing to Jan. 25. She ordered Landen to forfeit his U.S. passport and prohibited him from leaving the state, with the exception of pre-approved two-day trips to visit his mother, who must accompany him at all times while outside California.
Duffy also ordered Landen to stay at least 100 yards away from any school with the exception of Chalk Mountain Community School, a county-run school for at-risk youth in Atascadero, and make no contact with 27 named teachers and administrators at San Gabriel Elementary.
He also is prohibited from possessing any weapons and must submit to a search by police officers at any time with or without probable cause. Landen is currently out of custody after his family posted $500,000 bail, court records show.
According to the Atascadero High School website, Landen was a cross-country track runner with a 4.0 GPA in the 2014-15 school year. The SLO Symphony website lists Landen as a violin player in its 2015-16 Youth Concert Orchestra.
Police did not initially release Landen’s name when he was arrested on Oct. 14, due to his age. He turned 18 last month and was charged as an adult following a fitness hearing on Tuesday.
The incident began the morning of Sept. 11, when school employees found threatening letters and a suspicious object before classes started at San Gabriel Elementary. The object, a candle holder that was zip-tied to a chain-link fence near the playground, contained sodium ferrocyanide, police said.
Letters found outside classrooms instructed officials to “play a game,” mimicking the popular “Saw” horror film franchise, and indicated the liquid was a combination of cyanide and acid. One letter instructed teachers to locate different sets of keys, some for classrooms and some for padlocks left on school gates, and instructed staff to retrieve keys from the candle holder containing the liquid.
“If these tasks are not completed by 8:00 a.m., there will be consequences to follow, possibly affecting the children,” the letter read. “Make your choice.”
Atascadero police Chief Jerel Haley said previously that sodium ferrocyanide is far less toxic than most forms of cyanide and is found in different commercial products. He said the amount of sodium ferrocyanide found would have been toxic only if ingested and it would not have produced “off-gassing,” or the harmful release of vaporized cyanide.
City police, as well as the county Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad and the county Hazardous Materials Team, conducted an extensive sweep of the campus based on threats made in the letters. The Atascadero Unified School District also hired an environmental monitoring service to examine the school campus. Testing results did not detect any harmful chemicals.
The school’s 570 students were relocated to other campuses for two weeks during the investigation.
Last month, the Atascadero Unified School District filed a restitution claim in the criminal case, alleging the incident cost the district about $206,000 in staff and security, testing and cleaning, relocation, as well as lost revenue from the drop in attendance.
Atascadero Police Cmdr. Joe Allen told The Tribune the incident cost the city approximately $41,825 in staff time and other services, but that it would not be filing for restitution.