Franklin Middle School evacuated after substances are found in locker

January 10, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County police evacuated Franklin Middle School in Reisterstown yesterday afternoon after five vials of flammable substances were found in the locker of a 12-year-old pupil.

Police said the seventh-grader told administrators that he was trying to sell the substances to other pupils as bomb-making ingredients.

Sgt. Dean Brubaker of the arson and hazardous devices unit said a preliminary investigation showed that the materials were household chemicals that, if combined with "certain incendiary devices," could become explosive.

"If the chemicals came into contact with a flame, then we would have a problem," Brubaker said.

Investigators are trying to determine what the materials are.

Charles A. Herndon, spokesman for the county schools, said administrators searched the pupil's locker about 1:45 p.m. in an unrelated matter. He would not elaborate.

"Once we were inside the locker we found five containers no bigger than a pill vial," Herndon said. "After an investigation, we had information that led us to believe they could be materials used in making bombs."

He added: "There were statements made that made us believe we needed to call police."

Police were called to the school at 3:30 p.m.; they summoned the Fire Department's hazardous materials team about a half-hour later, Herndon said.

Twenty-five children participating in after-school activities were evacuated about 5:30 p.m.

Asked about the delay in clearing the building, Brubaker said: "You have to evaluate before you do an evacuation."

Herndon said the seventh-grader had made no threats against the school or anyone at the school.

Police would not say whether the boy had been taken into custody.

School activities were canceled last night.

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