Friday, June 14, 2024

Mental health exam set in Ottawa school threat case

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A Bloomington man charged with threatening a school shooting in Ottawa won’t stand trial Monday. Bruce Sirtoff will undergo a mental health evaluation, instead.

Sirtoff, 38, was scheduled for trial May 20 in La Salle County Circuit Court on several felony counts led by making a terrorist threat, a Class X felony carrying six to 30 years, for allegedly threatening mayhem at Shepherd Middle School.

Thursday, however, public defender Ryan Hamer announced he wanted Sirtoff evaluated for fitness; that is, whether Sirtoff has the faculties to assist his lawyer at trial. Hamer confirmed to the judge it is merely a “look-see” and not prompted by a bona fide doubt of Sirtoff’s fitness.

Ryan approved the evaluation and postponed the trial. Sirtoff still has a constitutional right to speedy trial, but the clock is halted (“tolled” in legal parlance) until any mental health issues are answered.

Sirtoff will appear July 12 for a status hearing. If he’s deemed fit, Ryan could put the case back on the docket.

Sirtoff has been in custody since March 1, when he allegedly told police in Ottawa that he planned to conduct a mass shooting at Shepherd and to detonate a bomb. A search of his residence produced “no items consistent with his threats,” police said, and the alleged threat was uttered at night when no students would have been present.

He has since been charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer, a Class 2 felony carrying three to seven years in prison, for allegedly striking a corrections officer in La Salle County Jail.

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