A 35-year-old man working as a job coach at Duluth East High School was charged Tuesday with threatening violence and possessing a machine-gun conversion kit.
Travis John Anthony Warner Busch made the threats to “a third party,” who reported them to police, according to the criminal complaint filed in St. Louis County District Court.
Busch’s attorney, Matthew Miller, said Busch has a history of mental problems and may not have been thinking clearly when he allegedly made comments to a close relative, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
Miller declined to comment Tuesday afternoon, saying that another attorney from the Sixth District Public Defender’s office would be appointed to represent Busch later this week.
According to the complaint, police were contacted just after noon Friday by someone who was concerned about statements Busch allegedly made. The person said Busch had talked over the course of several hours about a shootout with law enforcement. He was at the high school supervising a student cafeteria worker as part of his duties as a job coach when police got the complaint.
Law enforcement notified the school district, which locked down the school, the criminal complaint says. Police found Busch inside a locked cold storage room in the cafeteria, along with the student he was supervising.
Police recovered a .357-caliber pistol from a boot inside the trunk of Busch’s car; it was cocked, with a round in the chamber, and loaded with hollow-point rounds. Busch was arrested and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was cleared by medical staff for release to the jail, the complaint says.
According to the complaint, Busch told the person that he would “murder every cop at my door” with “a few machine guns.” But he also said his comments were “hypothetical” and asked his confidant to pretend he didn’t hear what he was going to do. Busch allegedly referred to a person who had been convicted of a school shooting as “my hero.”
The complaint says Busch boasted that he has modified various firearms to increase their firing speed, similar to the bump stock used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 that killed nearly five dozen people. He allegedly said he had “lots of plans” and described how he could padlock shut a movie theater and shoot the people inside like “fish in a barrel,” or alternatively, shoot up a high school.
While at the school, Busch sent several more messages stating, “I don’t know what I am going to do. I seem to still lack the fortitude to take this gun out and start shooting.”
A search of Busch’s residence in Duluth yielded a handgun and three long guns, one of which had a scope, a collapsible stock and a banana-style magazine. Parts for firearm modifications that could convert them to machine guns also were found.