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Man sentenced to 11 years for threatening to shoot up Wauka Mountain school
Thomas Shannon Bruce
Thomas Shannon Bruce

A Clermont man was sentenced to 11 years in confinement after he told his then estranged wife he was going to shoot up Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy, where their children attended.

Thomas Shannon Bruce, 37, was given a 15-year sentence Tuesday, Oct. 15 on charges of terroristic threats, disrupting a public school and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. The first 11 years will be in confinement, and the other four years may be on probation.

Bruce called Wauka Mountain Sept. 5, 2018, asking about checking his child out of class, but Bruce wasn’t authorized to take his child from the school, according to former Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins.

According to the indictment, Bruce told his estranged wife he “was going to shoot up the school in 15 minutes” and sent her a text message that read “bang, bang.”

Law enforcement arrested Bruce at his home. Bruce was never on school grounds that day.

Bruce previously pleaded guilty to the charges before he was set to have a mental health and substance abuse evaluation.

“What you see before you is all he has left,” defense attorney Michael George said to Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin while gesturing toward Bruce’s parents sitting in the pews behind him.

Wauka Mountain’s principal Pam Doig spoke at the hearing, discussing the immediate and long-term effects of the threat more than a year ago. Doig lauded the work of the security staff and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies, as school officials entered into a lockdown.

Since then, Doig said students now have more questions than before regarding safety scenarios.

According to the terms of probation, Bruce shall not enter any school in Hall County or Gainesville nor have contact with his ex-wife or his children “unless they requested (contact) via counselors.”

He is ordered to have evaluation and treatment for substance abuse and anger management.

Bruce must not own any weapons and can be searched for weapons at any time.

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