A judge on Thursday dismissed one of two criminal charges against a former Buchanan High School student accused of making statements about shooting up his graduation in June.
Dressed in his red prisoner jumpsuit, Kyle Dwelle was in Fresno Superior Court for a preliminary hearing where two coworkers and a Clovis police investigator testified. Dwelle was arrested June 4 after his coworkers told police about statements he made about mass shootings.
The charges against Dwelle stem from threats he allegedly made against his coworkers. Judge Arlan L. Harrell said Thursday there is enough evidence to take the case to trial with one charge of criminal threats. Harrell ordered Dwelle continue being held in Fresno County Jail without bail.
Kailee Dauderman, a former coworker of Dwelle’s at Solstice Senior Living in Clovis, told prosecutor Andrew Janz that she felt threatened by “disturbing” comments Dwelle made on five or six occasions. Dauderman said Dwelle’s comments about wanting to commit a mass shooting at Buchanan High’s graduation as well as suicide “took a dramatic turn” when Dwelle’s girlfriend broke up with him.
When Dwelle offered to show his coworkers a gun, Dauderman said, “It got my wheels turning that maybe he was capable to do something.” Dauderman also said she felt personally threatened by Dwelle’s comments: “I felt like a target.” She explained in her testimony that she and Dwelle did not have the friendliest relationship and that Dwelle apparently disliked that Dauderman had gotten a promotion at work.
Harrell dismissed the charge against Dwelle that dealt with complaints from Joseph Banuelos, another coworker and classmate of Dwelle’s. In his testimony, Banuelos told Janz and Dwelle’s defense attorney, Roger Nuttall, that he never felt personally threatened by Dwelle when Dwelle made comments about a mass shooting.
“He talked about doing it, but I didn’t think he had the mental capacity,” Banuelos said. Banuelos admitted in court that only after Dwelle was arrested on June 4 did he realize that perhaps Dwelle’s comments were serious. But he repeatedly stated in court that he always thought Dwelle was “joking around.”
Clovis police Officer Michael Sweeten, who was assigned to Dwelle’s case after Clovis Unified contacted police, said he interviewed a “scared and trembling” Dauderman and Banuelos about the statements they attributed to Dwelle.
Sweeten later questioned Dwelle. Thursday, he testified about what was said during the recorded interview:
Dwelle admitted making statements about wanting to shoot up the high school’s graduation and claiming that he had a handgun. (It turned out to be an air soft pistol.) Dwelle said he used the gun to intimidate others after bullying he endured at school from students and teachers. Dwelle mentioned anger toward one teacher in particular who “would embarrass him” in front of students in class.
Dwelle said kids at school called him and his friend “the Columbine kids,” due to their appearance — the way they dressed, the color of their skin and lengthy bodies. (A mass shooting at Columbine High near Denver in 1999 left 15 dead including the shooters who committed suicide.) Dwelle said his statements to his coworkers and his admission to Sweeten were a “cry for help.” Dwelle said he was depressed and had a bad relationship with his mother.
Dwelle said he had researched the mass shooting by Elliot Rodger, who killed six and wounded 14 near the UC Santa Barbara campus before killing himself in 2014. Sweeten said Dwelle told him he “felt a strong connection” to Rodger.
Dwelle’s attorney, Nuttall said he’s hopeful Dwelle can be released from jail before his trial. Janz argued Thursday that Dwelle remains a threat to the public. Harrell set Aug. 3 for a trial date.