Andrew James

Andrew James, 21, walks toward a detention officer on Thursday after pleading not guilty to felony charges that he made threatening phone calls to a Montana TV station. Police say James often walks in Butte openly and legally carrying an AR-15 and shotgun.

A man who police say caused a lockdown at Kennedy Elementary School after walking by with an AR-15 and shotgun pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of making threatening phone calls to a TV station that reported the incident.

Andrew Alan James, 21, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of privacy in communication as a third or subsequent offense, each carrying a maximum five-year prison term and $10,000 fine.

The crime is defined as using obscene or profane language through an electronic device to threaten, intimidate, or harass someone.

James told police he did not walk near the school before the lockdown and was angry that the news portrayed him as a "school shooter," according to prosecutors.

Following Thursday's arraignment, District Judge Kurt Krueger ordered that James be returned to jail pending the same $50,000 bond. He has been there since his arrest March 8.

James was not charged in connection with the school lockdown because police say he did nothing wrong. He was arrested and charged later for allegedly making threatening calls to NBC Montana.

According to police, a relative dropped James off in an area west of Montana Tech near Big Butte on March 2. The area is frequently used by recreational shooters.

A resident saw James close to the school and phoned police, resulting in a lockdown at Kennedy, police say.

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James is a person known by police for openly carrying firearms. He is often seen carrying his AR-15 and shotgun to the shooting area and sometimes wears a sign with a message about the Second Amendment.

Police have talked to him several times, but they say it is legal to openly carry firearms in Montana as long as the person is not in a government building or a place that sells alcohol.

A reporter for NBC Montana did a story on the lockdown and interviewed James, among others, prosecutors say. The next day, they said, James called the station's office in Bozeman apparently claiming the story was inaccurate.

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A station manager said he used obscenities over the phone and "was abusive and threatening toward her and other staff" at NBC Montana.

"At one point, he also stated something to the effect of, 'You know what I can do,'" according to the charges. The manager took that as a direct threat, police say, and James called again 20 to 30 minutes later.

The manager told police she was alarmed by the phone calls "and felt it necessary to put the other NBC offices on alert and recommended they lock their doors."

James told police he did not walk by the school on the day of the lockdown and was angry about the news coverage. He said he called the TV station and then again a couple of days later.

"In these calls he admitted to using profanity but maintains that he never threatened anyone with physical harm nor did he ever threaten to go to either location with his guns," said prosecutors, who filed the charges April 12.

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