PO man arrested for 1999 bomb threat
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:19 AM
"A Port Orchard man was arrested late last month for a 1999 bomb threat that closed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for hours.Detectives with the Washington State Patrol arrested Stacey L. Sommers, 39, on Feb. 28 and booked him at the Kitsap County Jail for making the March 23, 1999, bomb threat. Sommers is scheduled to go to trial in Kitsap County Superior Court April 16. The threat to bomb charge is a felony, with a maximum penalty of $20,000 and 10 years in prison.Just before 6 a.m. March 23, 1999, a 911 dispatcher received a call from a pay phone outside the Sedgwick Exxon gas station. The caller told the dispatcher there was a bomb on the Narrows Bridge.State troopers shut down the Narrows Bridge for two hours while a bomb-detection dog searched the structure. The search turned up nothing because there was no bomb.The threat snarled between 10,000 and 12,000 commuters in morning rush-hour traffic; hundreds of others decided instead to take the ferries, which resulted in a two-hour backup at the Southworth ferry terminal and hour-long delays at the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton terminals.Some commuters drove an additional 90 miles around through Shelton along State Route 3.After the call, the Cencom operator dispatched a Port Orchard police officer to the Exxon station. When he arrived, the phone booths were empty, but he did find a size-11 shoeprint in one of them. He dusted the phone and obtained some partial prints. No one at the Exxon station saw anybody enter or leave the phone booths.The Port Orchard officer handed the evidence over to the Washington State Patrol, whose detectives initiated their own investigation. While several leads materialized, most of them led to dead ends. One came up, however, that seemed promising.A man who worked with Sound Heating and Air Conditioning in Pierce County told detectives one of his employees, Sommers, failed to show up to work Monday, March 23, or Tuesday, March 24, 1999. The next day, March 25, Sommers called in to quit, according to court documents.Some of Sommers' co-workers recalled a conversation they had with Sommers prior to the threat in which he stated something to the effect of, Let's call in a bomb threat on the bridge so we don't have to go work. The men said at the time, they thought he was kidding.During the year following the threat, detectives tried to contact Sommers several times, but he never appeared. In March 2000, they attempted to contact him at his residence in Port Orchard. As luck would have it, Sommers was home. During the detectives' interview with him, Sommers confessed to calling in the bomb threat the year before, saying he did it because he didn't want to go to work, according to court documents.The detectives were in the midst of investigating a couple other threats at the time, so they asked Sommers about them. Sommers denied making any other threats, saying he was working a job in another state. Before they left, the detectives had Sommers confess to the threat on tape.On April 20, 2000, detectives returned to Sommers' home to ask him again about the other bomb threats. Sommers again denied making the other threats, reiterating he only made the Narrows Bridge bomb threat because he didn't want to have to cross the bridge to go to work.Sommers was issued a summons to appear in court Aug. 14, 2000, but he failed to appear. In September, the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Since then, detectives have been trying to catch up with Sommers to arrest him. They finally caught him at home Feb. 28, again at his home in Port Orchard. According to Officer Glen Tyrrell, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, Sommers was arrested without incident. "