The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

May 14, 2013

Miami bomb threat defendant granted probation

MIAMI, Okla. — A federal judge granted probation Tuesday to a defendant who created a bomb scare at Miami High School on Sept. 11 of last year in an apparent attempt to extort money from a local bank.

At a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell ordered that Bobby Ray Harris, 26, serve eight months of home detention and five years on probation on a conviction for willfully making a threat.

Harris pleaded guilty to the charge in February in a plea agreement that dismissed a second count, which accused him of attempting to extort bank money.

Harris, an Army veteran of two tours in Iraq between 2005 and 2009, was arrested on the charges shortly after calling in a bomb threat to the 911 dispatch center in Miami and allegedly following it up with two calls to the Welch State Bank in Miami, demanding large sums of money and threatening to blow up the school if the bank did not comply.

The call to the dispatch center was made on a cellphone at 11:19 a.m. The caller told the dispatcher: “Bomb. Twenty minutes to find it in Miami High School.”

The threat led to an evacuation of the school and the summoning of bomb squads from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Tulsa Police Department.

While that was taking place, police tracked the cellphone call to an area behind a Catholic church next to the Welch State Bank on North Main Street in Miami. In the meantime, the suspect is believed to have walked to the Walmart store a block away, where he placed the calls to the bank about noon from a pay phone.

Harris was spotted by police and arrested minutes later. No bomb was located, and he failed to get any money from the bank. Harris reportedly told police that he came up with the idea of trying to force the bank to pay him not to blow up the school because he was unemployed and had fallen behind on child support payments.

The defendant faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the conviction for willfully making a threat. Due to a lack of criminal history and other factors, a pre-sentence report calculated his recommended imprisonment period by federal sentencing guidelines at 15 to 21 months.

His federal public defender, William Widell, asked the court to consider a more lenient sentence due to the post-traumatic stress disorder that Harris has suffered as a consequence of his service in Iraq and the strides he has made toward rehabilitation during pre-trial release. Court documents state that he has been receiving both substance abuse and mental health treatment while residing in a halfway house environment.

Community service

Besides a period of home detention, a federal judge is requiring that Bobby Ray Harris also complete 80 hours of community service.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos