NEWS- School bust: 4th alleged bomber arrested
Police moved in to arrest another eighth grader at Jack Jouett Middle School February 15, pulling the youth out of class minutes before the school day was over. He's charged in an alleged bombing plot that has already ensnared three other teens and rocked the parents– if not the students– at Jouett and at Albemarle and Western Albemarle highs.
Police received a petition to arrest the 13-year-old at approximately 3:30pm and were at the school around 3:50pm, according to Lt. John Teixeira with the Albemarle police. Students are released from class at 4pm.
"Normally we try not to disrupt the school and to be unobtrusive," says Teixeira. "The principal went into the classroom and brought him into the office. The School Resource Officer arrested him."
What prompted the decision to arrest the teen at Jouett rather than at his home when, police say, there was no imminent threat? "I think because of the seriousness of the offense," replies Teixeira.
The youth was charged with two felony counts: conspiring to use an explosive device to destroy a schoolhouse and conspiring to commit murder.
The officer arresting the 13-year-old did so before 4pm, says Teixeira, taking him to the police department and then to Blue Ridge Detention Center. Teixeira believes it unlikely that other students saw the handcuffed youth being escorted out of the school.
"He was handcuffed in front," says Teixeira, "something we normally don't do, and a coat was put over [the cuffs]. So if you were looking you wouldn't know he was handcuffed."
Teixeira declines to comment about whether the youth's house was searched. The homes of the other three boys were, and police confiscated three computers and two shotguns.
At a February 3 press conference, Police Chief John Miller refused to say whether any explosives were found.
Will there be any other arrests? "I can't answer that," says Teixeira. "I feel comfortable saying that we have in custody the people who were going to commit these offenses.
Police also announced an additional felony charge had been filed against the 16-year-old Western Albemarle student for conspiring to blow up a school.
An eighth grade female at Jouett admits to surprise– but not fear– that two fellow students have been arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up Albemarle and Western highs before the school year is out.
"I think it doesn't seem that real to them," says her mother, who asked that her name not be used. "They're thinking, 'Oh come on, could this have happened?'"
As for parental reaction, "One is a lot of sorrow for the families involved, and then, a little horror that this could happen," says the Jouett mom.
She, like many in the community, knows who the families are. One, who lives nearby, she describes as "a nice family" but the son as a boy who's been in trouble before.
"I wonder what they found and how serious it is," she continues. "Why is this serious? How many threats do they get all the time?"
The parent is "really surprised" the most recent arrest was made at school. "That made it very public– if they're really trying to protect their identity," she remarks.
And she wants to send out one message about the middle school: "I love Jouett. Jouett is not some sort of threatening, scary school."
Albemarle High, above, was allegedly one of the targets of four students– two of them middle schoolers– who've been arrested.
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO