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Boy charged with taking incendiary device to school

March 24, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 14-year-old student at Martinsburg North Middle School was charged with taking a small container filled with gasoline to school Tuesday.

The eighth-grader, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was charged with a felony count of possession of an incendiary device. He was released to the custody of his mother, said Assistant Berkeley County Prosecutor Joshua Henline.

Later, he and his mother went to Berkeley County Magistrate Court for an emergency detention hearing. That hearing was to determine whether the boy would remain in his family's custody or be sent to a juvenile detention facility.

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Assistant Berkeley County Prosecutor Betsy Giggenbach said she could not provide the outcome of the hearing.

Detective Cpl. L.G. Witt, with the Martinsburg Police Department, investigated the case. After saying the device was flammable but not explosive, Witt referred additional questions to prosecutors.

Henline and Giggenbach described the device as a plastic container used to hold a home beauty product. It contained gasoline and a Styrofoam cup and was sealed with a lid.

Giggenbach alleged that the boy bragged to friends about the device, after which school personnel were notified. Firefighters with the Martinsburg Fire Department were alerted and went to the school, where they found the container in one of the boy's pockets, she said

"He indicated he was going to throw it away," not ignite it, Giggenbach said.

Jaimee Borger, director of media services for Berkeley County Schools, said the county school system has a zero-tolerance policy for such items. The boy will appear before the Board of Education for a hearing, at which he and the principal and assistant principal will present their sides of the case.

Expulsion is possible, but not automatic, Borger said.

She said the container had two ounces of a flammable material inside.

According to state code, an incendiary device is a container filled with gasoline or other flammable material that is capable of igniting, Giggenbach said.

North Middle School is on East Road, on the northern edge of the city's limits.

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