Dad, son arrested for smoke bomb scare at prep school that didn't renew father's contract

A member of the El Paso County bomb squad searches the Fountain Valley School campus on May 16, 2017. Inset: Bryan Bolding, accused in the bomb scare.

KKTV

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A faculty member and his 16-year-old son are accused of trying to set off a military-style smoke bomb at a private Colorado boarding school after the father's contract wasn't renewed.

The device was found Tuesday in the school's cafeteria, prompting the evacuation of 300 faculty and teachers from the Fountain Valley School for several hours on Tuesday. The device didn't detonate, El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby said today.

Bryan Bolding, 46, the school's technology director, was arrested on suspicion of felony charges including terrorist training activities, conspiracy, possession and use of a hoax incendiary device, child abuse without injury and felony menacing and later released on bond, Kirby said. The son was also arrested but wasn't identified because he is a juvenile.

The school has about 235 students, a mix of both boarding and day students and is located on 1,100 acres on a former ranch about 10 miles south of Colorado Springs. Tuition for boarding students is about $54,000 a year.

Citing an arrest affidavit filed in court, KRDO-TV reported that Bolding learned in February that his contract would not be renewed. According to the document, his son told authorities that the plot had been in the works for weeks and they originally planned to set off the device at graduation on May 27.

Kirby said authorities have since learned that a seemingly unrelated smoke bomb Monday night near a gym was connected to the device at the school, CBS affiliate KKTV reports. Authorities initially did not have any suspects in the smoke bomb, but police were given a photo of the bomb by the person who called 911 and now the sheriff's office has been able to link the two, Kirby said. KKTV reports the smoke bomb was a test run for the incident at the school.

Bolding's son told authorities the reason they wanted to detonate the device was to cause "terror and panic," according to arrest papers. While KKTV reports that Bolding initially denied planning anything, he later told detectives he wanted to "just set off a smoke bomb."

Kirby said investigators were not ready to release a possible motive.

"We're still putting the pieces together," she said.

Bolding could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the school did not respond to a telephone call and an email request for comment.