Judge denies bail to Buchanan student who was 'one bad moment away' from mass shooting

Prosecutor Andrew Janz says Buchanan student fit ‘mass shooting’ profile

Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz talks about defendent Kyle Dwelle and gives a warning to the public.
Up Next
Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz talks about defendent Kyle Dwelle and gives a warning to the public.

Buchanan High School senior Kyle Dwelle told police that he was "one bad moment away from executing his plan" to do a mass shooting at graduation, a judge said Friday in Fresno County Superior Court.

Dwelle's lawyer said in court that the school should've done more to help the student overcome depression months before.

Judge John "Nip" Gallagher said Dwelle's statement was so disturbing that he denied defense lawyer Roger Nuttall's request to have Dwelle released from jail to his family so he could get psychiatric care.

"This is a troubled young man," Gallagher said in upholding prosecutor Andrew Janz's request to keep Dwelle, 18, in jail without bail.

Kyle Dwelle, 18, was arrested and booked into Fresno County Jail Monday night for allegedly making criminal threats towards fellow Buchanan High School students on June 4, 2018. Clovis Police Department

Nuttall agreed that his client needs psychiatric help, but also said Buchanan High School staff should share some of the blame for Dwelle's alleged actions. During the court hearing, Nuttall released new details about his client's bouts with depression and "his cry for help."

In March, Dwelle was in a group session with Buchanan staff and students, Nuttall told the judge. What Dwelle said during that session caused school staff to become concerned and call police, and Dwelle was committed at a hospital on a 72-hour involuntary hold, Nuttall said.

But instead of staying in the hospital, Dwelle was released after seven hours and given no out-patient care, Nuttall said. He returned to school, Nuttall said, but school counselors and administrators declined to help him.

"He was crying out for help at Buchanan High School and not getting it," Nuttall told Gallagher. "They brushed him off and that's why we are here."

Schools and hospitals are prohibited by law from talking about a person's mental health.

Friday afternoon, Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants said the district disagrees with Nuttall's characterization of interaction with Dwelle.

Addressing Nuttall's assertion that Dwelle was committed on a 72-hour involuntary hold, Avants said, "If that occurred we also would have requested a re-entry meeting with the family to discuss" support the district offers. "Since implementing this process we have found it to be very helpful to families and our staff. But, this does not mean that every parent takes full advantage of all of the services that we offer, as some families consider discussions about mental illness a difficult and very private topic."

Friday in court, Gallagher said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Dwelle, who was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of making criminal threats, remains a danger to himself and others because he shows signs of being suicidal.

Gallagher said Dwelle was arrested after students observed him to have a gun in the trunk of his car. Dwelle also called a local firearms dealer on June 4 about buying a gun, the judge said.

In addition, Dwelle had called an old classmate in March to inquire how to purchase an illegal gun, Gallagher said.

In a police interview, Dwelle told detectives he has "suicidal thoughts and had made an attempt on his own life, " Gallagher said. Dwelle also confessed to police that he planned to do the school shooting during graduation ceremonies (which were Thursday night) and save the final bullet "to execute himself and commit suicide," the judge said.

In addition, Gallager said, police found on Dwelle's cell phone a "selfie" photograph that shows him wearing a mask, holding a black gun and holding a white-supremacy flag. Police later found Dwelle's gun, which turned out to be a BB gun.

Gallagher was concerned that classmates described Dwelle as a loner with few friends. Dwele also had made statements to classmates that appeared to show he is paranoid and delusional, the judge said.

"Dwelle is a danger to public safety and himself due to his suicidal tendencies," Gallagher said in making his ruling to deny bail.

During the proceedings Dwelle sat silently, but nodded once affectionately toward his family sitting in the front row of Gallagher's courtroom.

Andrew Janz.jpg
Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz talks to reporters on Friday, June 8, 2018, after a Superior Court judge denied bail to Buchanan High School senior Kyle Dwelle, 18, who is accused of threatening to do a mass shooting during graduation ceremonies. Janz said Dwelle fits the profile of a mass school shooter. PABLO LOPEZ

After the hearing, Janz said he agreed with Gallagher because Dwelle fit the profile of a mass shooter: before his arrest, Dwelle looked on the internet to research Elliott Rogers, the man accused of a mass shooting near the UC Santa Barbara campus in May 2014. Rogers killed six and wounded 14 before killing himself in his car.

Dwelle is charged with making criminal threats against two people. Typically the bail for two counts of criminal threats is $40,000. But Judge Jonathan Conklin ruled on June 5 that Dwelle should be held without bail after reading a detective's affidavit that says Dwelle is a danger to himself and others. On Friday, Gallagher upheld Conklin's order.

Court paperwork for a Clovis Unified request to ban Dwelle from graduation (moot because he was in jail) contains testimonials from three current and former Buchanan High students who said Dwelle spoke about his "depression and supposed schizophrenia."

In court Friday, Nuttall said Dwelle was not seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist or taking medication for his mental illness prior to his arrest. He also said Dwelle has no criminal record and was ready to start a job on Monday.

Nuttall has characterized the threats as not serious, but more like "loose talk."

"Kyle is an extremely kindhearted kid who volunteers at an animal adoption center," Nuttall told the judge. "He comes from a good family and is a good young man."

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts
Related stories from Fresno Bee