The man who police say caused a lockdown at Kennedy Elementary School last week after walking near campus carrying an AR-15 and shotgun has been arrested for allegedly making obscene, semi-threatening phone calls to the school and TV station NBC Montana.
According to documents from Butte Justice Court, Andrew Alan James, 21, of Butte has been charged with four separate counts of “privacy in communications,” which refers to sending harassing, threatening, or obscene messages.
One of the charges is a misdemeanor, and the other three are felonies, court documents say.
Undersheriff George Skuletich said James called the school twice Tuesday — at around 1 and 6 p.m. Both calls were answered by voicemail on which James left “obscene” and “lewd” messages, Skuletich said.
James allegedly made similar calls to NBC’s Bozeman office. Those calls came in at around 11 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and were answered by a secretary, Skuletich said.
NBC Montana reported Monday on the March 2 lockdown of Kennedy Elementary School, 1101 N. Emmet Ave. The report included an interview with Kennedy School principal Ron Ricketts.
The undersheriff said James did not make any specific threats in the calls but said he would be “stopping by” the station and school’s respective offices.
Officers arrested James Thursday afternoon at the Butte police station after an interview about his alleged phone calls.
In an earlier interview, Sheriff Ed Lester said that James’s relative dropped him off March 2 near an area west of Montana Tech and near Big Butte. The area is frequently used by recreational shooters.
Lester said a resident saw him relatively close to the school and phoned police, resulting in the Kennedy lockdown. West Elementary was also briefly locked down as a precautionary measure, according to a parent who called The Montana Standard last week.
James is a person known by police for his tendency to open carry, Skuletich said Friday. He’s often seen carrying his AR-15 and shotgun to the shooting area and sometimes wears a sign with a message about the Second Amendment.
"He was wearing a camouflage sweatshirt and carrying a shotgun and a rifle," Lester said last week. "I can see why someone would be alarmed. We have talked with him frequently — probably 50 times."
“We’ve contacted him several times on this stuff,” said Skuletich Friday.
James was similarly charged with a privacy in communications misdemeanor in September 2017. Skuletich said Friday he wasn’t at that time able to provide information on what led to the charge.
Skuletich said it’s legal to openly carry firearms in Montana as long as the person is not in a place that sells alcohol or in a government building. Carrying a concealed weapon, on the other hand, requires a permit.