You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

Ypsilanti student accused of making bomb threat at graduation ceremony

By John Counts


Tristan Simmons

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

Police say an Ypsilanti High School senior and noted basketball player who was having academic problems called in a bomb threat to Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

Tristan Karez Simmons, 18, has been charged with the false report of threat of a bomb or harmful device, a four-year felony, for calling the high school Tuesday morning and saying a bomb would go off at 7 p.m. at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center.

That was the time and place set for graduation ceremonies.

“His intent was to postpone the graduation while he tried to clear up some academic issues,” said Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Police say Simmons, of Inkster, called the high school’s secretary twice that morning. The secretary alerted the principal, who contacted police.

The sheriff’s office matched up the phone number Simmons used to call the school and make the threats with a number they had on record for him. Simmons was then questioned and charged.

“He’s confessed to it,” Fox said.

In the meantime, Ypsilanti High School’s graduation ceremonies continued as planned.

Ypsilanti schools public relations director Emma Jackson said Tuesday was the first bomb threat the district has received to an off-campus location or related to graduation in her seven years with the district.

Jackson said she did not believe the Ypsilanti High School seniors or their parents were aware of the bomb threat.

“We all showed up and the students graduated,” she said. “It went off without a hitch and was another wonderful celebration.”

In April, Simmons was named's Washtenaw County boys basketball Player of the Year. He averaged 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Phoenix, who were ranked among the top 10 Class A teams in the state at the end of the regular season.

Simmons was released on a personal recognizance bond pending his next court appearance.

K-12 education reporter Danielle Arndt contributed to this report.

View Larger Map

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Oh, my goodness. Tristan, please, please learn from this. own up to what you did. accept the consequences. you have your whole life ahead of you and it would be a shame for you to waste it. trust me, I'm almost 60 and I've made some seriously messed-up choices in my life but I've been able, for the most part, to learn from them and move on.

greg, too

Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

This kid has shown a remarkable disregard for the law in order to try and get what he wanted so he could continue his basketball career (he is/was set to play JC ball). He phoned in a bomb threat because he wanted to postpone his HS graduation so he could "clear up some academic issues." This kind of behavior, as an adult, will continue if it is not corrected. He committed a felony, as an adult, and should be punished as such. This is not mean, it's not racist, it is basic human psychology. If you let someone get away with something, they usually will try to push the limits even further. And if this kid gets away with a serious felony....I will leave you to extrapolate out where this could go.

greg, too

Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

He confessed already to it. To be truly honest, I think he should "learn from this" and in 2-4 years, he will get out of prison and can act on those lessons. This is not a petty crime, this is not something that should deserve a slap on the wrist. Too bad, with our lenient courts and overrun prisons, he will most likely walk on probation and do something stupid in the future.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

"His intent was to postpone the graduation while he tried to clear up some academic issues," -- What could go wrong??!! LOL! Innocent until proven guilty: FYI, when there's a confession as there is here - it's guilty and then sentenced. Lets not get our protected rights confused with already proven guilt. One of the "best ways" to lose the protection of our rights is to fail to understand and appreciate what they really mean.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

How about his phone number being used to make the calls? That evidence enough for you?


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

I guess you have never heard of a coerced confession? I guess nobody has ever heard of the police making statements that turn out to be false or not proven. It's not like they will say "oh yeah, we arrested the guy and we have no case but we think we can make one" That's why it's "Innocent until proven guilty" ..... A teenager, anyone, under interrogation can say anything but is there evidence to back up the statements.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

I'm glad my child is out of this district. Parents should have been notified and the ceremony moved to another date. Just goes to show you what lengths the district leadership will go to avoid a black eye.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

I got the impression from the article that everything had been worked out prior to the ceremony. If that's true, what would have been the point of disrupting the event for the graduates and their families? Would it have enhanced the evening to have several news teams swarming the Convocation Center?


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Released?? Oooops!


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

Everyone assumes what is written in the article is true. Innocent until proven guilty is supposed to be the rule of law in this country. The question I have is if a bomb threat was levied, why didn't the school administration notify people versus keep them in the dark attending a ceremony. The media relations person spoke about the parents and other students not knowing at all as if that was good. What if there truly was a bomb that went off? Would their response be "yeah, we knew of the possibility but we said forget about it" Maybe, they did some type of bomb sweep. Maybe it was a known hoax taken out of context to the point where it has spun further than anticipated.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Dear Sandy Castle, Your child no longer attends YHS. You sent your child to Milan. Ypsilanti is a very different place and although incidents happen, they happen everywhere. Stop targeting my school because of your daughter's bad experience. Thanks. -YHS Student p.s. Homecoming was not YHS students but two adults fighting that didn't attend the school. Dance was cancelled to keep the student body safe.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

"The sheriff's office matched up the phone number Simmons used to call the school and make the threats with a number they had on record for him. Simmons was then questioned and charged. "He's confessed to it," Fox said. " Innocent until caught red-handed and confessed.

Sandy Castle

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

Ypsi NEVER notifies anybody unless the news has gotten out and they CAN'T keep it quiet. Bomb threats, fights, shootings resulting from fights started at home football games ending in homecoming being cancelled...NOTHING makes the news or elicits phone calls to parents if they can cover it up. They're operating in damage control mode and have been for quite some time.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

I hope he has some support so that he doesn't feel like this is a "no way out" situation. It wasn't a smart move, but as others have said--do what needs to be done and move forward.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

I'm wondering what the consequences to calling in these phony bomb threats are today. Anybody know? When my kids were in High School (Chelsea at the time), it was a common occurrence. Since 9/11, and Columbine, etc. they have taken on a whole new meaning. To me, it calls for swift and stiff consequences. We can no longer assume these threats are a prank. These calls have taken on a whole new meaning.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

The article says its a 4 year felony... Billy Bob, I doubt they ever took them as pranks 100% as well, however, there was a time where they seemed to be more unlikely to be true. Before kids were shooting up schools for example. This is not the first bomb threat of the year as well, I believe there were articles saying Skyline had at least 2. I don't believe those suspects were caught, maybe they used a blocked number... Nonetheless its baffling and sad a kid would go to this extent...

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 11 p.m.

I doubt they have ever been considered pranks by parents, students, teachers, the community, or law enforcement. They have been felonies since I can remember (a loooong time). Most often some stupid stunt by kids who didn't think, but occasionally including a pipe bomb or some such.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

This kid has so much talent but he really screwed up this time. I pray that he gets some help and another chance. Good luck young man and keep your head up. You have a lot of hard work ahead of you but you can do it if you choose too!


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Don't be too tough on him, after all it takes a Village right?


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

"It takes a Village to raise a child" is an old African proverb. It by no means detracts responsibility from individuals doing wrong things. To have such an attitude is ignorant. The meaning is that it takes more than one individual to make a productive member of society. Sadly, a lot of cohesiveness has been lost in this society and it does make a difference in people in general. Twisting the words and meaning of this brings nothing profound. No excuses have been made but when society and family fails to stick together bad things do tend to happen. Not one person has made an excuse for this kid. He made a terrible mistake it seems from the charges pending. Not well thought out at all. However, if hetruly did admit to the charges it doesn't sound like hes' not taking responsibility for his actions.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

This whole "village" concept is a great way to explain any form of accountability for the individual. Life isn't fair, and some people have more to overcome than others, but let's hold the individual accountable for his actions. Hopefully this will be a learning experience rather than a series of poor choices.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

hes from Inkster but going to school in ypsi? how did that happen?


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

people do move, he may have originally been from Inkster as its my understanding he doesn't live there..


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

It is called School of Choice. He chose Ypsi, and they took him.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Is that why there were so many empty seats for the graduates? Seating arrangements changed at the last minute... More unnerving is today is Thursday. Since he was caught and confessed, don't you think we should have heard about this a little earlier...

Superior Twp voter

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Unbelievable. And he thought he had "troubles" before!


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Life is short, young man, no time to waste on stupid stuff....and it's not to late to turn your own life around. But YOU have to do it. Pending your court case get in summer school and study hard. You can do it. And don't be afraid to ask for help. You'll be surprised at how many people are willing to help a person who is trying to better himself.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Great advise Cash. We are too quick in some cases to right off a kid and to slow in other cases. Hope he will heed your advise if he gets the chance.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

"His intent was to postpone the graduation while he tried to clear up some academic issues," LOL, DUH! Guess he shoulda put as much effort into the books as the courts. Now he gets to see a different kind of court.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

So is he charged with one count or two since he did it twice? Seems like two would be piling it on. As an optimist, some kid just got a scholarship offer they wern't planning on.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Keep your head up Tristan, you can rebound from this.