Science Leads To Terrorism
Originally published January 15, 2010 at 7:33 p.m., updated January 16, 2010 at 12:57 a.m.
SAN DIEGO — Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood yesterday after an 11-year-old student brought to school a personal science project that he had been making at home, authorities said.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque said the student had been making the device in his garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.
The school, which has about 440 students in grades six to eight and emphasizes technology skills, was initially put on lockdown while authorities responded.
Luque said the project, intended to be a motion-detector type of device, was composed of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached. There was no substance inside.
When police and the Metro Arson Strike Team responded, they also found electrical components in the student’s backpack, Luque said. After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined. Students were escorted to a nearby playing field, and parents were called and told they could come pick up their children.
A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. By 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless, Luque said.
Both the student and his parents were “very cooperative” with authorities, Luque said. He said fire officials also went to the student’s home and checked the garage to make sure items there were neither harmful nor explosive.
“There was nothing hazardous at the house,” Luque said.
The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.
“There will be no (criminal) charges whatsoever,” Luque said.
Police and fire officials also will not seek to recover costs associated with responding to the incident, the spokesman said.
Luque said both the student and his parents were extremely upset.
“He was very shaken by the whole situation, as were his parents,” Luque said.
The school is on Carolina Lane near Hilltop Drive. Adjacent Gompers Charter Middle School was not affected during the incident, police Sgt. Ray Battrick said.
Millennial Middle School opened in fall 2008. It is part of the San Diego Unified School District.