Tonganoxie A sixth-grade student had no intent to cause harm when he brought a dangerous explosive device to school on Thursday, school and law enforcement officials said.
“He just made a mistake,” said Billy Adcox, Tonganoxie police lieutenant.
No one was injured by the homemade explosive device, which was confiscated from the Tonganoxie Middle School student sometime before 10 a.m., officials said. The Leavenworth City/County Bomb Squad safely removed the device from the school by 11:30 a.m.
Local police said the student was showing off the small device to other students at the school, when one of them contacted school administrators. Assistant Principal Mark Altman brought the student to his office and confiscated the device, which police said was equivalent to one-third of a stick of dynamite.
Police described the device as a cardboard BB wrapper — with a fuse — that had been packed with BBs and the powder of two M-80s. Tonganoxie mayor and police dispatcher Mike Vestal said the device had the potential to injure or kill people if ignited.
The administrative offices were evacuated and the entire school was locked down, Vestal said.
“It’s uncommon, for sure,” said Kyle Hayden, assistant school superintendent. “We don’t believe that there was any malicious intent. There were no threats made with the device; just a serious error in judgment.”
Parents were notified about the situation by noon Thursday, Hayden said.
“When they said they had a bomb threat, I honestly thought they’d find a piece of plastic with nothing in it. But when they honestly had something, it really scared me because you just don’t think it’s going to come to small-town Tonganoxie,” said Teresa Sickman, parent of a sixth-grade student at the school.
The suspect student is being detained at a juvenile detention center pending charges from the Leavenworth County attorney, police said. He will be suspended from school for 10 days, during which time a mandatory expulsion hearing will take place to determine whether he’ll be banned from the school for an entire calendar year, Hayden said.
The device was safely detonated by the bomb squad at a nearby rock quarry, Adcox said.