81-year-old jailed over threatening phone call
An 81-year-old retired college professor has been jailed on charges that he called the Donald E. Schick Elementary School on Four Mile Drive and allegedly threatened to “blow up the building with dynamite” according to court records filed by state Trooper Chad Daugherty.
Lawrence Paul Stabler was taken into custody at his home at 554 Main St., South Williamsport, on Thursday afternoon shortly after the Loyalsock Township school became aware of the call.
He has been charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and terroristic threats, both felonies, as well as disorderly conduct and harassment.
“The defendant threatened to bring three sticks of dynamite to the school,” Daugherty wrote in a criminal complaint he filed with the charges.
Stabler left this message on the school’s answering machine: “If you don’t stop calling this number, I’m going to find out what your (expletive) address is and believe me, three sticks of dynamite will get rid of you and all your (expletives),” according to Daugherty’s brief affidavit.
Loyalsock School District Superintendent Gerald McLaughlin said the message was left on the district’s attendance hotline and was discovered about 1:45 p.m. by school Principal Suzanne Foresman, who immediately alerted him.
“It was a threatening phone call of a severe enough nature we felt we should call the police,” McLaughlin said.
Daugherty stated in his brief affidavit that investigators determined the call was placed to the school about 10:15 a.m.
Troopers responded to the school at 2800 Four Mile Drive and remained on the premises until all the students had left the school for the day, McLaughlin said.
“The state police did a thorough investigation and at no time was your child in danger,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to parents.
While there was no evacuation, Daugherty said “afternoon outdoor activities were restricted” as police conducted their investigation. He did not say how investigators traced the call to Stabler, but the elderly man “admitted” to making the call from his home telephone.
Daugherty made no mention about the motive for the call.
However, during his arraignment Thursday night before District Judge Christian Frey, Stabler said “I have received a number of harassing telephone calls, whole bunch of calls, silence, deep breathing.”
After apparently receiving one such call Thursday morning, Stabler said “I hit the re-dial. I flew off the handle. I won’t deny that.”
What was not clear was if Stabler had any idea he was calling an elementary school.
During the proceedings, a state trooper told Frey that school district officials found the message “very shocking,” and that investigators were “as perplexed as you are,” about the motive behind Stabler’s alleged threatening call.
Following the arraignment, Stabler was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Sun-Gazette reporter Ioannis Pashakis contributed to this story