Three Oak Park students arrested after talk of bombs
Sheriff's officials say the boys admitted their plan to plant bombs at another school.
By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN
Published April 12, 2006
PINELLAS PARK - Three students at Oak Park School were arrested Tuesday after a social studies teacher overheard their plans to blow up bombs at another school.
The three students came to Oak Park, an alternative school, after landing in trouble elsewhere. Two of the students attended John Hopkins Middle School, and a third went to Riviera Middle School. They planned to place several acid bombs at Hopkins, authorities said.
The Sheriff's Office said the boys, ages 13, 14 and 15, wanted to plant acid bombs in a locker, by the administration building and near the bus stop. All three were charged with a felony count of conspiracy to plant a destructive device.
The Sheriff's Office took the arrested youths to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Their names were not released.
Acid bombs are a volatile cocktail of household chemicals often put in 2-liter plastic bottles. The reaction of the chemicals causes the bottles to explode, causing slight structural damage and burning those near the blast.
Oak Park principal Tim Haley sent letters home to parents Tuesday telling them of the arrests. In an e-mail, Haley said the three students were suspended and subject to expulsion hearings by the school district.
"At no time were any students unsafe," Haley wrote in his letter to parents. "Oak Park School and the Pinellas County Schools must take all conversations from students that can be perceived as threats seriously. We will keep you informed of any circumstance such as this."
Oak Park is an alternative school for middle and high school kids who run into academic or disciplinary problems at other schools. Between January and March 2006, 49 Oak Park students have been taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center on some type of school related criminal charge. No other school in Pinellas had so many arrested students.
The three were talking about their plan during class on Monday when a social studies teacher overheard them. The teacher reported the conversation to a school resource officer, who arrested the three students on Tuesday after they stepped of their school buses and walked to their classes at Oak Park.
The Sheriff's Office said the students admitted their plans and said they didn't want to hurt anyone. The students didn't have any supplies that could be used to make a bomb.
"It was all talk," said Mac McMullen, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. "They just wanted to disrupt the school."
Staff Writer Tom Tobin contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 893-8472.
[Last modified April 12, 2006, 01:06:10]
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