threat suspect says he'll be his own attorney
The Washington man accused of making a bomb threat at
Park University recently has told the court he intends
to represent himself as his case makes its way through
the legal system.
"That could change, but that is his indication at
this point," Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd
told The Landmark this week.
Brett S. Tanis, 40, is charged with the Class D felony
of making a terrorist threat. He has entered a plea of
not guilty and declined the services of a public defender
in a court appearance held Jan. 17.
Zahnd said the case is now set for a preliminary hearing
on Feb. 14.
"He currently does not have an attorney and it does
not sound like he wants an attorney. It sounds like he
wants to represent himself," Zahnd said, before quickly
adding: "That often changes.
In a related move, Zahnd explained that a female member
of the Park University staff is seeking an order of protection
from Tanis. A court hearing on that request for an order
of protection was set for this week. Parkville Police
Chief Bill Hudson recently said that Tanis had "taken
a shine" to a female staff member at the university
prior to his alleged bomb threat on Jan. 12.
Zahnd said Tanis remains in custody in Platte County
Jail, where he is held on a cash-only bond of $15,000.
According to court documents, at around 9:20 a.m. Thursday,
Jan. 12, Tanis entered McKay Hall on the Park University
campus and "burst in" the university president's
office, which was unoccupied at the time, and slammed
The administrative assistant for the president reported
that Tanis came out of the office and she directed him
to leave. Tanis went back into the president's office
and the assistant pressed the panic alarm and went into
the hallway. Tanis then came into the hallway and was
advised that security had been called.
Park University Director of Public Safety Pete Sturner
made contact with Tanis and told him to leave the university
property but Tanis refused. Sturner reported that Tanis
made statements regarding "explosives" and indicated
that he was at the university to test security.
Authorities allege Tanis also entered the office of the
College of Distant Learning and made contact with Park
University official Dr. Brian Davis. Tanis told Davis
that he had driven to the university from Washington State
and was there to talk about security. Tanis allegedly
referred to the underground space at the college as a
"bunker" and stated "Anyone with explosives
could come right in there and cause a problem.
Parkville Police Chief Bill Hudson explained what happened.
"We got called up to the college (when) a strange
fellow wandered in and made himself at home in the president's
office. He made strange comments that alarmed the people
there," Hudson said.
As he was being escorted out of the building, the suspect
made a comment to the effect that there were explosives
in his pickup parked near the university's administration
building, according to Hudson.
Police evacuated the school buildings. The Kansas City
Bomb Squad was called to the scene and used its motorized
robot to check out the pickup truck. It was discovered
the tarp over the bed of the truck was attached with bungee
cords and ratchet straps, so it was necessary for officers
in bomb suits to get to the truck to undo those attachments.
Then the robot approached the truck, which was a Ford
Ranger, and pulled off the tarp, Hudson explained.
"There was nothing in there but his personal belongings,"
Hudson said the suspect made many comments during his
time at the college, most of which were incoherent.