The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 4, 2013

Judge: Threat too serious for deal

Incident led to school lockdown

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — SUNBURY — The Northumberland County District Attorney’s office asked for a nine-month sentence for a 37-year-old homeless man who pleaded no-contest to making terroristic threats against an elementary school in the Shikellamy district. But President Judge Robert Sacavage didn’t seem interested in agreeing to the deal on Monday and ordered the man to remain imprisoned for up to 23 1/2 months.

Jeremy Michael Church, who has a mailing address of 249A W. Market St., Middleburg — his mother’s house — pleaded no-contest to a felony count of terroristic threats, and a misdemeanor count of terroristic threats. The December incident drew Point Township, Northumberland, Sunbury police and state police at Milton to the Priestley Elementary School in Point Township because of the threats. Church also pleaded to a drug paraphernalia charge.

Church appeared before Sacavage Monday and listened the judge reject a nine-month agreement made between Church and the district attorney’s office.

“I read this complaint and some of these things that were said are serious,” Sacavage told Church. “I’m going to reject this deal.”

The incident began at 11:20 a.m., on Dec. 20, 2102, when a woman called the school and asked to pick up her child because her ex-boyfriend said he was going to come to the school and kill the child, police said.

The caller, who was identified as the mother of Church’s child, then called 911 and said the man was going to kill her and the child.

The threats brought officers from surrounding communities as well as concerned parents and relatives swarming to the elementary school after word got out that there were “serious threats” to the children inside.

Priestley Elementary School, which had 452 children, immediately was locked down, and minutes later, the entire Shikellamy School District followed. Police rushed to the school to meet an already waiting group of concerned parents, who had been stopped from going near the school.

Church, police said, referenced the killing of 20 boys and girls and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just days before the Dec. 20 incident.

Church has been incarcerated at the Northumberland County Prison for 318 days will not spend at least  another six months when he will be eligible for parole.

Church will also be on probation for five years after he is released.