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Charges filed in Glen Helen ‘gunman’ scare

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Cody Buffenbarger, 22, of Springboro, was charged last week with falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor, for fabricating a story on June 27 about a man with a gun near Ecocamp cabins in Glen Helen. The story led to a several-hour manhunt in Glen Helen by a variety of police and law enforcement departments, a shutdown of Antioch College, and panic among many local parents whose children were attending the camp. A week later, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, in a routine interview with Buffenbarger, discovered that the story was untrue.

“He was trying to get attention, for whatever reason,” Greene County Prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said last week regarding the charge. The News was not able to reach Buffenbarger for comment this week.

A Wright State University student, Buffenbarger was in his second year as a boys’ dorm counselor at the Glen Eco­camps, Glen Helen Ecology Institute Director Nick Boutis said this week. Buffenbarger, who was placed on administrative leave from his job and later terminated after he confessed to making up the gunman story, had previously been a satisfactory employee, Boutis said.

Before charging Buffenbarger, the prosecutor’s office needed to get an estimate of the costs incurred during the June 27 manhunt, according to Schmidt, who said the charge could have been a felony had the amount of economic harm from the incident been over $1,000. However, even though the total amount from all departments involved in the search came to $2,975.88, prosecutors charged Buffenbarger with only a misdemeanor since he made restitution of the total amount up front. He also wrote a letter of apology, according to Schmidt.

“He’s very sorry for what he did,” she said.

Buffenbarger will be arraigned in the Xenia Municipal Court at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23. While the first-degree misdemeanor could result in a six-month jail sentence in the Greene County Jail or a $1,000 fine, the prosecutor’s office is recommending a suspended sentence with community service, due to the young man’s remorse and the upfront restitution of costs involved, according to Schmidt.

The $2,975.88 figure was the combined amount spent for about 20 officers from the Yellow Springs and Cedarville Police Departments, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Greene County Parks Department who engaged in the June 27 search, which began around noon on June 27 and lasted for several hours. The departments had responded to a call for support from Yellow Springs police after Buffenbarger reported to police that a suspicious man had been near the Ecocamp cabins that morning and, when asked to leave, pulled up his shirt to reveal a gun. Buffenbarger said the man ran away when told police would be called. Glen employees immediately secured the 60 children attending the camp, whose parents were contacted to pick them up.

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