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Northwest Missouri State teacher is charged — but not for comments about rifle

Updated: 2013-09-07T18:30:09Z

By DONALD BRADLEY

The Kansas City Star

Nodaway County officials Friday said the Northwest Missouri State University faculty member who posted a Facebook message about possibly climbing the campus bell tower with a rifle would not be charged with making a terrorist threat.

But all that marijuana they allegedly found during a search of Matthew Rouch’s house, that’s another thing.

So Rouch, 57, is still in jail, charged with producing and possessing marijuana in what prosecutor Bob Rice described as an “elaborate growing operation.”

In a statement Friday, the university said Rouch had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation and had been barred from campus.

What got the communications teacher into trouble initially was a recent Facebook post in which he told a colleague that he was always optimistic at the start of the school year.

But, his post said, “by October, I’ll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle — with a good scope, and probably a gatling gun as well.”

Joke or not, the post ignited outrage in the post-Virginia Tech world.

Rouch was arrested at 1:15 p.m. Thursday and confined in the county jail on a 24-hour hold.

By Friday morning, authorities had decided they probably would not charge Rouch. Rice said he would have to prove Rouch was serious when he made the post.

“And I couldn’t do that,” Rice said Friday. “He claimed he was just joking and that all he had was a pellet gun.”

Just to be sure, Rice decided to conduct a weapons search of the teacher’s Maryville home. No Gatling gun was found, but deputies said they discovered marijuana plants growing beneath heated lights, multiple baggies of pot and a few bongs, all sitting in plain sight.

“Looked like a lot of marijuana for personal use,” Rice said.

As for the Facebook post that got Rouch in trouble in the first place, Rice said: “I thought it was a very poor joke, and I didn’t find it funny at all.”

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send email to dbradley@kcstar.com.

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