Cumberland Times-News

February 14, 2013

‘Chemical reaction bomb’ exploded outside Fort Hill High

Oldtown youth, 17, arrested by county deputies witnessing incident

Jeffrey Alderton
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — An Oldtown youth was arrested outside Fort Hill High School on Thursday morning when he detonated a homemade explosive device with about 10 people nearby.

No one was injured in the 7:35 a.m. incident that was witnessed by two Allegany County deputies who had just arrived at the school concerning an unrelated matter.

The 17-year-old junior at the school, who also attends the Career Center, was taken into custody at the scene on a felony charge of manufacturing, transporting, processing, controlling and storing an explosive device and reckless endangerment.

The student remained in custody awaiting an emergency hearing in juvenile court, according to the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office.

Police said the device was a “chemical reaction bomb” that the youth reportedly assembled at home and then transported aboard a public school bus. The explosion created a loud noise similar to a gunshot, gave off a cloud of white smoke and blew pieces of the device into the air. Some of those materials were collected as evidence by the deputies who conducted the initial investigation with the assistance of the Cumberland Police Department school resource officer.

The matter was referred to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office for further investigation.

The explosion occurred in proximity to the school with an estimated 10 people standing about 15 feet away from the point of the explosion. The deputies were about 50 yards away when they saw the explosive device “fly through the air,” impact the ground and explode seconds later.

Initial investigation determined the device contained harmful chemicals that could cause severe injuries and loss of sight.

The Allegany County Board of Education said no injuries or damage were reported and no evacuation was necessary.

The student will be disciplined in accordance with the board’s policy on student discipline, said officials.

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at jlalderton@times-news.com.