The Paw Print
ALAMOSA, Colo.–”Be careful with the decisions that you’re making and be mindful of who you’re becoming.”
In the Fall of 2013, Kenan Bussen made a mistake. A goofy mistake many a young man trying to impress the women might make, but one that affected the course of his life. Although Bussen would face the consequences of that prank, he learned a valuable lesson to share with students and turned his prank into a life of success and accomplishment.
“We were just looking for something to do on Friday night,” Bussen said. Then 21, and a player for the men’s soccer team, Bussen was hanging out with a group of athletic recruits. The women’s swim team was watching a movie in another residence hall, and Bussen had the “stupid idea to do a prank.”
“I had put something together that was essentially a pop bottle [rocket],” Bussen said. He planted the pop bottle and waited for the women to squeal, but it never went off. After watching the movie with the women’s team, Bussen retrieved the rocket. “It didn’t look like it was going to do anything,” he said. “It was pretty dumb of me, but I had just left it in the Rex [Stadium] parking lot.”
The next day, the pop bottle was found. Adams State Police, the Colorado State Patrol, the San Luis Valley Hazardous Materials Team and the Alamosa fire department responded, according to an article published on the website of the Adams State newspaper, The Paw Print. The pop bottle was safely detonated.
Bussen was at practice at the time, and received a text from the ASU Alert System regarding a bomb investigation. “I had felt that it was likely what I had done in leaving that bottle out in the parking lot,” Bussen said. “I had felt bad about it. I didn’t want them to think that someone was actually…I wanted to tell them what it was and that it wasn’t actually a bomb threat.” After speaking with an Adams State employee, Bussen surrendered to police and was sent to the Alamosa jail. According to a Paw Print article from the time, Bussen was charged with “three felonies, including possession of explosives and menacing, as well as misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.”
Alan H. Jackman, who is a friend and former teammate of Bussen’s and attended Adams State at the time of the incident, disagrees with the severity of charges. “Kenan is a good guy,” he said. “He should have gotten a slap on the wrist and not sit in a prison cell.”
After a number of hearings, Bussen and his attorney decided it was “more beneficial” to take the plea bargain the district attorney presented rather than go to trial. Bussen said that if he had gone to trial, he would have run the risk of a conviction and a permanent mark on his record. “From what I remember, the plea bargain was that if I plead ‘no contest’ that I would get 200 hours of community service” and some counseling. The judge, however, increased the community service to 300 hours and eliminated the counseling because, according to Bussen, he said that Bussen felt remorse and was truly sorry. Bussen was put on probation for six to eight months and required to write an apology letter, to be published in the Alamosa newspaper The Valley Courier. Verification of the letter is not available, as the Courier website only goes back six years.
After completion of the plea bargain’s terms, Bussen petitioned the court to expunge his record, as he wanted to become a teacher. The judge accepted, and, “It’s seemingly not there anymore.” Neither a search on the Alamosa Combined Court docket nor a visit to the Alamosa Courthouse revealed anything about this case, including the name of the judge or attorneys.
Having fulfilled the terms of his plea bargain, Bussen moved on. Though he was suspended from Adams State for a semester, he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s in Mathematics. He married his wife whom he met at Adams State, and they now have three children. Bussen went on to earn a master’s from Texas A&M University in 2022 and taught at various universities before making a career change to an internet technician.
“He’s one of the nicest guys I know. Good family Christian boy [and] a dad,” Jackman said.
Unfortunately, the permanence of the internet has followed Bussen. “I don’t think I’ll ever fully know how much it’s impacted me,” Bussen said. An internet search only reveals articles about the arrest, the plea, and sentencing. The “newspaper never, never said anything about” Bussen turning himself in, nor did any news sources say anything about Bussen’s record being expunged. “It did kind of frustrate me a little bit at times that, even though it was a stupid decision, that I wish they would’ve told more of the story. It could’ve helped a little bit more.”
“But that’s just the consequences of your actions–that sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” Bussen said. “And you still have to just do the best you can no matter what.”
While teaching at Cambridge School of Dallas, a parent of one of Bussen’s students did search his name and found news articles about Bussen’s arrest. Although the parent approached the principal, the school, according to Bussen, wanted him to stay and use the incident as a teachable moment for students.
“I had explained to them exactly what had happened,” Bussen said, “and that it was a very stupid decision. They were still OK with me teaching.”
“They were glad I was teaching,” Bussen added. “If there were any students that did bring it up or ever Googled my name, [then] I could tell them [that] doing stupid pranks is not a good idea. [That you should really think really hard in advance about what you’re doing because it can really impact your life.”
Only one student asked, and that gave Bussen the opportunity to guide and advise the student. “That has been one positive thing is that I have been able to tell” the story to his students, Bussen said.
Bussen now lives in Amarillo, Texas with his wife and children, and is working for Pathwayz Communications. His message to today’s college students is to learn from his mistake, and take the most they can form college.
Boredom “is no excuse for doing, really, any pranks. There’s plenty of other relational things you can do,” Bussen said. “Just be careful of the choices that you make. Just because you haven’t got a degree yet you feel like you’re not contributing to society yet in that time–it is still just as important: your decisions and the things that you’re doing is building who you are while you’re in college.”
“Enjoy college for what it is and learning about, not just your major and becoming someone to be able to work in society, but also in your character and in your behavior.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Police Recover Suspicious Device and Issue Arrest (published 10/31/13)
The Paw Print
Adams State University police arrested a man at 6:30 p.m. Saturday following the safe detonation of an explosive device discovered that afternoon in a university parking lot. Kenan Bussen, age 21 of Clovis, New Mexico, was charged with three felonies, including possession of explosives and menacing, as well as misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment, according to Dr. Joel Shults, chief of Adams State Police. Bussen is an Adams State student who resides on campus. Shults said the device was detonated at the scene in a safe manner after consultation with an explosives expert in the Pueblo Police Department. Adams State Police also coordinated with the Colorado State Patrol, Alamosa Police Department, Alamosa Fire Department, and the San Luis Valley Hazardous Materials Team. They established a safe zone and evacuated the area; there was no damage from the device. ASU Police officer David Pino was on foot patrol at approximately 4:17 p.m. when he was alerted by a citizen to a suspicious device in the parking lot outside Rex Stadium. Pino recognized the device as a possible chemical explosive and begin implementing procedures to protect the area. The last spectators were leaving the Oct. 26 Adams State football game, and several visitors whose cars were in the parking lot were delayed until the device was rendered safe and evidence was secured. Shults said eight law enforcement units and three fire service units were on the scene for over two hours, including the additional police staff, already present for the football game. Emergency workers searched the area for any additional devices or evidence before releasing the scene back to public use. Shults said, “It was a well-coordinated and successful effort, showcasing the effectiveness of our officers and our partners, who unfailingly give us their best efforts and cooperation whenever we call.” Shults said the device contained unknown liquids and solids in a transparent container. “We’ll send the deactivated device to CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) to determine the chemical content.” He explained the danger from such a device includes flying debris under pressure and unknown chemicals that can be caustic or toxic.