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Girl, 15, guilty of false school alarm

August 10, 2000

Girl, 15, guilty of false school alarm



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


She maintained her innocence, but a 15-year-old girl was found guilty Wednesday of pulling a false fire alarm at South Hagerstown High School in March.

"There were witnesses who saw her do it," said Judge John H. McDowell after hearing testimony from two other girls who said the teen laughed after pulling the alarm March 27 and asked others not to get her into trouble.

McDowell heard the case in Washington County Juvenile Court. He placed the girl on indefinite probation and ordered her to perform 40 hours of community service.

"Pulling false fire alarms can be dangerous," he said, alluding to a student on crutches who fell while leaving the building that day and was injured.

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The judge said the girl should be thankful she doesn't have to pay the expense for fire department equipment. Firefighters didn't respond because it was quickly determined a false call.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum called the two student witnesses who said they clearly saw the defendant pull the manual alarm in the hallway of C Building.

Hagerstown Fire Marshal John Hersh said his investigation quickly led to the defendant.

"She first told me she wasn't in that hallway," Hersh said.

Defense attorney Kirk Downey called two girls who said they were also in the area of the alarm when it was pulled.

One girl testified she heard the alarm go off but that the defendant in the hallway was nowhere near the alarm. She also said a boy she used to work with told her he pulled the alarm.

Another girl who was behind the defendant in the hallway said she saw two boys running away after the alarm was pulled.

Under questioning from Lochbaum, the second girl admitted she didn't come forward with that information because she didn't want to get into trouble.

The 11:40 a.m. alarm resulted in a brief evacuation of students from the school.

The girl was referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice and later released to her parents, Hersh said. She was suspended from school.

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