Terrorism charges against Mesa city worker who shut down plant

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Robert Olson By Jennifer Thomas Robert Olson By Jennifer Thomas

GILBERT, Ariz. – A city of Mesa employee was arrested after there was a disruption in the processing system at a Gilbert wastewater plant.

Gilbert police say they received a 911 call Friday just after 2:30 a.m. from Robert Olson, 43, who works for Mesa's Water Resources Department.

The call prompted a standoff situation with the Gilbert Police Department's SWAT team.

Olson was working at a treatment plant in the 4400 block of South Greenfield Road in Gilbert. He reportedly was armed with a handgun and knife.

Police say that throughout the course of the night, Olson turned off numerous operating systems that treat wastewater, causing a disruption in the system.

During negotiations, employees were able to enter the plant and restart parts of the system Olson had reportedly shut down.

He was arrested approximately two hours later and was was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail. Olson faces charges including terrorism, terroristic threats, criminal damage, trespassing and misconduct involving weapons.

The Maricopa County Superior Court set Olson's bond at $250,000.

According to court paperwork, Olson reportedly told police that he was angry with the city of Mesa's management for various reasons, including the lack of employee pay raises, lack of cost-of-living raises, money spent on the Chicago Cubs, increasing health insurance premiums, and the scheduling of employee work hours at the plant.

Olson has worked for Mesa since 2007 and passed an FBI background check before gaining employment.

The plant is back to normal and officials say no customers are affected.