Bethlehem school worker charged with threats

January 16, 2011 12:52:00 PM PST
A school district employee has been arrested on charges of making online threats, including the possibilities of taking a gun to school and meddling with an airport's air traffic control system, authorities say.

James William Kelley, who works in the information technology department at Broughal Middle School in the Bethlehem Area School District, in eastern Pennsylvania, was charged Saturday with two felony terroristic threat counts. Kelley, 38, was taken to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Some of the comments and threats made by Kelley "concerned bringing a firearm to school and his dislike of many of the employees and administrators" of the district, police said in a statement.

Superintendent Joseph Roy, who announced Kelley's arrest on the district's website, said officials would provide more information Monday after meeting with police.

"The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is always our greatest concern," he wrote.

Police alleged in an arrest affidavit that the postings Saturday included threats against not only the school but also Lehigh Valley International Airport. They said "comments and/or threats were also made by the individual to 'mess' with" the airport's air traffic control system.

"What if I lose it. What if I came into the School with a gun. I could have ... I have all the keys. I can get in any door ... anywhere," Kelley posted, according to the arrest affidavit, as cited by The (Allentown) Morning Call newspaper.

School resource officer Simon Boddie is quoted in the affidavit as saying Kelley, who lives in Bethlehem, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, had displayed erratic behavior recently and had been in confrontations with other school employees.

Roy said Sunday that he wanted to review school safety measures and confer with police on whether additional measures were needed. "We are comfortable that he's in custody right now," Roy told The (Easton) Express-Times newspaper. "Any threat like this is taken extremely seriously."

A telephone number listed for Kelley rang unanswered Sunday, and it was unknown whether he had an attorney. There was no answer Sunday at several numbers listed for the prison.