Man sentenced for emailing Ephrata schools bomb threat

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EPHRATA — An Ephrata man who has a history of making false reports to 911 was sentenced for sending out a bomb threat via email in March.

Aaron Stetner, 27, of Ephrata, pleaded guilty in Grant County District Court to false reporting, a gross misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a total of 364 days in jail, with 363 days suspended for two years and credit for one day served. Stetner was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation. Stetner was initially charged in Grant County Superior Court with threats to bomb or injure property, but the charged was amended in a plea agreement between the prosecution and defense and sent to district court.

In early March the Ephrata Police Department was alerted to a bomb threat that was sent to Ephrata High School via email. The sender of the email identified himself as “Daniel Dotson” and claimed there were bombs at different locations at each school in the Ephrata School District.

The EPD did not have anyone in their database named Daniel Dotson and investigators drafted a letter to Microsoft, as the email was sent from a Hotmail email account, to obtain the IP address used to send the bomb threat email.

The IP address came back to the Ephrata area and was registered to Northland Communications. Northland advised the IP address was traced to a location in the 1000 block of Hilltop Drive Southeast and the subscriber was Stetner’s father. Police tracked Stetner down a few hours after he sent the email and he claimed he didn’t know why he was being questioned.

“Eventually Aaron admitted to sending the threats. Aaron stated he had a disability and sometimes he gets angry and mad. Aaron admitted to sending the email to the school from his personal iPad at his residence,” wrote an officer. “Aaron eventually stated he was sorry. Aaron also stated he didn’t place any explosive devices at any of the schools.”

Court documents lay out a number of occasions in which Stetner made false emergency reports in the past. In one instance Stetner sabotaged a piece of Burlington Northern equipment so he could see police and fire units respond. Another instance relates to a 911 call Stetner made in 2011 in which he claimed there was an explosion at the Central Washington Concrete plant in Ephrata. Police believe Stetner wanted to “observe an emergency response” and was given a warning. Also of note, court documents state Stetner used the alias “Jacob Dotson” in a previous incident in which he was the prime suspect.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at rbyrd@columbiabasinherald.com.

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