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W.Va. student free on $5K bond after bomb scare

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 02:35 PM

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A Salem International University student who terrified classmates by using a fake bomb in a class presentation was free on $5,000 bond Wednesday and will return to court in four to six weeks to answer for the campus scare he says he didn't mean to create.

Harrison County Magistrate Frank DeMarco said Wednesday that Joshua John Richards, 33, of Clarksburg was pleasant and cooperative when he appeared in court late Tuesday.

Richards faces a misdemeanor charge of manufacturing and possessing a hoax bomb — in this case, a ticking black box with a blinking green light. It's a misdemeanor punishable by six months to a year behind bars, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

"He said it was just a school project. He kept saying that," DeMarco said. "He said he was very sorry it went down the way it did. He was very remorseful."

DeMarco said Richards appeared without an attorney but has requested a public defender.

Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer has said he will also seek "thousands of dollars" in restitution for the cost of the massive emergency response to the 100-acre campus in north-central West Virginia. Fire and police departments, 16 sheriff's deputies, four emergency services teams and a bomb squad were among those who responded to 911 calls Tuesday morning.

Student Stephanie Morgan said the incident occurred in a communication class about persuasion.

She and other students thought Richards was a real threat, she said, and only when they began crying and "freaking out" did Richards turn off the device and tell them it was fake.