Authorities: Suspect in Ferris explosions confesses, acted alone



Posted on January 23, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 7:21 AM

SPOKANE,  Wash. -- Spokane Fire investigators said a male student confessed to his role in two small explosions at Ferris High School Wednesday morning, prompting a school evacuation and a full search of the campus.

The juvenile may face criminal charges, and may have to pay for the public safety response.

The fire department says rumors were circulating about this student in particular. He allegedly confessed whent he school resource officer confroned him about the incident. Authorities are calling the boy extremely remorseful. They believe he acted alone.

The teen was released to his parents, who are fully cooperating, authorities said.

The first soda pop bottle blew up near the start of the school day in a hallway. Initial reports said three faculty members were injured. The Spokane Fire Department later said just one custodian suffered a superficial skin irritation while he cleaned up the mess. He was not treated and not transported.

Just after 11 a.m. a second device exploded in the school commons as emergency crews examined the liquid in the first bottle. Officials began evacuating the building and organizing buses by 11:40 a.m.

Police say school officials believed the first incident was minor and that's why they kept school in session until the second incident.

Many students described the explosions as loud and startling. One girl told KREM 2 News the sound of the explosion stopped her heart.  Another student saw a green smoke from one of the explosions and said it smelled musty.

KREM 2 News spoke to a Ferris teacher, who wished not to be named, that said the school initiated a lockdown procedure right after the second explosion. Staff decided to get kids into classrooms and make sure everyone was accounted for. The lockdown was lifted about 20 minutes after the second explosion, and the evacuation was started immediately.  The teacher heard about the second explosion from students returning from the commons area, who complained about missing lunch. The teacher described the lockdown and evacuation as "calm and controlled," and it proceeded like those events were supposed to.  The teacher complimented the students for remaining calm.

Members from the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane Fire Department responded to Wednesday's event. Officials from both departments believe these bottles contained household chemicals and said students were not in serious danger. Authorities call this more of a nuisance than anything else.

"This is finals week," Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff said. "According to the police and the fire department, this is a common strategy to get out of school. Still, however, we thought it was the best thing to do to let students out so we can search for any more of those devices."

The gym was searched early and was deemed to be free of any suspicious devices. Students that could not walk home or drive home waited in the gym for buses to arrive.

Commissioned school resource officers spent the remainder of the day exploring the campus. Nothing else was found.

Classes will resumed Thursday.