Carthage, Missouri: Robert Ritter of Carthage in southwestern Missouri pleaded guilty Monday to calling in a bomb threat at Webb City High School as a ploy to get a deputy to abort a traffic stop. Robert L. Ritter, 44, pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to making a false bomb threat in a plea deal calling for a suspended sentence and dismissing a related felony count of making a terrorist threat and misdemeanor count of hindering prosecution.
Circuit Judge David Mouton assessed the defendant four years on the conviction but suspended execution of the sentence in accordance with the plea deal and placed him on supervised probation for five years.
Ritter was a passenger in a car pulled over Nov. 16 on Missouri Highway 171 by Jasper County Deputy Mark Neidert for having expired plates that did not match the vehicle. While the traffic stop was in progress, Ritter called 911 to report the presence of a bomb at Webb City High School in an effort to get the deputy to abort the traffic stop and join other law enforcement responding to the threat.
Ritter did not leave his name with the 911 dispatcher, but the sheriff’s office was able to match the phone the caller used with the phone Ritter had used the previous day to make a call for service from the sheriff’s office.
The bomb threat forced an evacuation and search of the high school. At the time, there were about 100 football players, their coaches and families at the school, as well as actors, stagehands and the audience at a play that was being performed.