Published July 26, 2013
By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City Herald
A Finley man who allegedly made multiple bomb threats against Columbia Basin College placed the calls shortly before he was scheduled to take a test at the school, according to court documents.
Steven Eugene Brown, 52, was arrested after police said they tracked a cell phone used to call in the threats.
Brown's bail was set at $150,000 Thursday during an appearence in Franklin County Superior Court. Judge Bruce Spanner found probable cause to hold Brown for 72 hours while prosecutors decide whether to file charges.
The allegations against Brown are "quite serious" and "undermine (the) security of our entire community," Spanner said.
Brown has a lengthy criminal history dating back to at least 1989, including a felony drug conviction, domestic violence assault, driving under the influence, disorderly conduct and attempted theft, prosecutors said.
Brown told the court that he'd lose his disability payments if he didn't get out of jail.
He has a wife and six children, three of whom still live at home, he said.
On July 18 at 11:23 a.m., a "middle-aged" man called a staff member at CBC's Pasco campus and said, "This is a bomb threat. Bomb is going to go off in the H Building and one other place," court documents said.
The CBC staff member called campus security, who then called Pasco police.
Around 11:45 a.m., an employee at Townsquare Media in Pasco, which operates several local radio stations, got a call from a blocked telephone, court documents said.
The male caller told the Townsquare employee "there are two bombs located at CBC.
The first bomb is located in the H Building (and) the second bomb you will find after the first bomb is detonated. The first bomb is scheduled to detonate at 1 p.m.," court documents said.
Townsquare Media called Pasco police, who evacuated both of CBC's campuses, court documents said. No explosive devices were found at either campus.
The break in the investigation came when police tracked down the phone number of a call that came into CBC around the time the threat was made to the college.
When police checked with the cell phone company, records showed the same number was used to call in the threat to Townsquare Media, court documents said.
The caller pressed "*67" before calling, which causes the number to show up as blocked.
The same number was also used, four minutes prior to the first threat, to call a woman named Catherine Davis, whose daughter is friends with Brown's granddaughter, court documents said.
Davis told police her daughter had called her from that number to ask if she could spend the night at Brown's granddaughter's house, court documents said.
The granddaughter lives with Brown, who was the only adult male present when Davis' daughter called her mom.
When investigators went to Brown's home, his sister told them he was at CBC taking a placement test, court documents said.
The sister told police the test was part of the process for Brown -- who is currently on disability -- "to go back to school to regain employment."
When investigators checked with CBC, officials said Brown was scheduled to take the test the day the threats were called in, court documents said.
The test was scheduled to take place in the H Building at 1 p.m., which was the same place and time specified in the threat.
Brown had scheduled to take the test multiple times before and didn't show up, court documents said.
Investigators found that the phone used to make calls to CBC and Townsquare was registered to a "Jhon (sic) Smith," court documents said. There was no other information associated with the account other than the last four digits (5400) of a credit card number.
When police searched Brown's house on Wednesday, they found a phone with the same serial number as the one used to call in the threats, court documents said.
They also found receipts for purchases made with a credit card ending in 5400.
Police did not find any explosive devices when they searched Brown's home or anything to indicate he was planning on making explosives, said Pasco police Sgt. Jeff Harpster.
"We believe it was just the threat at this point," he said.
Brown was not a student at CBC and it doesn't appear he ever worked there, Harpster said. Harpster called his connection to the college "very loose."
If Brown is charged with any crime in connection with the threats he will appear in court July 30.
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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