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Park ‘bomb’suspect awaits
October trial’

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

The Washington man accused of making a terroristic threat at Park University in January remains in custody in the Platte County Jail.
Brett S. Tanis, who noted his 41st birthday while in custody, has been unable to post a cash-only bond of $7,500.

Tanis has entered a plea of not guilty. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 9 a.m.

According to court documents, Tanis entered McKay Hall on a Thursday morning in January on the Park University campus in Parkville. He allegedly "burst in" the university president's office, which was unoccupied at the time, and slammed the door.

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 the state of Washington 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.”

Shortly after the incident, Parkville Police Chief Bill Hudson told The Landmark 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.

Hudson said the suspect made many comments during his time at the college, most of which were incoherent.

The college area remained a crime scene throughout much of that day. Yellow crime tape surrounded the area and nearby Hwy. 9 was shut down for about five hours, Hudson said.

As a precaution, university officials cancelled night classes that evening.



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