Nettleton Junior High Locks Down After Student Brings "Device" in Backpack

October 4, 2006 - Posted at 5:12 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- A 14-year-old carrying more than books in his backpack forces an east Jonesboro school to go into lockdown Wednesday morning.  A quick thinking teacher may have prevented a terrible situation.

"We had a situation at Nettleton where a student came to school.  He had a bottle filled with gasoline and paper towels as a wick in his backpack," said Capt. B.J. Smith of the Jonesboro Police Department.

The item resembled a Molotov cocktail, an explosive device that is lit and thrown while on fire. However, some of the gasoline leaked into the students book bag...reeking of an odor that something was right.

"One of the teachers there at the school was alert and detected the odor and found the device and contacted the authorities," said Capt. Smith.

The school went into a temporary lockdown while the situation was assessed.  Once the device was found, the student was brought in for questioning, but little is known about the intent behind this incident.

"Thus far, we haven't received any information that he made any threats to use the gasoline or flammable liquid for any other reason," said JPD Sgt. Stephen McDaniel, "We haven't had any indication that there were any others involved."

Luckily no one was hurt, but that shouldn't take away from this alarming event.

"We take it very seriously. We want to applaud the teacher who smelled the gasoline to begin with and became alert.  We think it's everyone's job to keep an eye out for something suspicious and do call the police if they see something suspicious," said Sgt. McDaniel.

It hasn't been determined what charges the student face, it's likely they will be handled by juvenile authorities.  The student is currently being held at the Craighead County Juvenile Detention Center.

The Nettleton School District is located in east Jonesboro, with about 700 students attending the Junior High.  The school went into lockdown sometime during the first period and the lockdown ended around 11:00 Wednesday morning.

Superintendent James Dunivan said commends the actions of the teacher who discovered the device, the school resource officer Russ Manning and the work of the Jonesboro Police Department.  He commented that everyone reacted exactly how they were trained.

"At no time were any threats made, no one was hurt and nothing actually occurred.  We just did that in the interest of safety, just to make sure everybody was ok," said Dunivan.

The Nettleton Junior High School was on "lock down" for over an hour Wednesday morning while Jonesboro Police searched the building for other devices.

"To tell you the truth, we were able to do all this checking between classes, between bells," said Dunivan, "They were in a class and they were all in their rooms.  When they came out it was lunch time, so everything was pretty normal."

The school has counselors available for students through their crisis coordinator.

"Because of the area that we are in and the things that we've been through in the past, that we are all very well prepared for conditions like this in the area," said Dunivan, "I think it's important that parents know that the children's safety is our utmost number one priority and they are safe.  If we felt any differently, we would take other actions."

The school does have additional police officers on campus as an extra precaution.

"Security has just become a big part of school now days and I just feel like everybody here at Nettleton has done a real good job to be prepared.  This was handled quickly, efficiently and we're back in school right now.  That's the best thing that I think could have happened," said Dunivan.

The school says it's too soon to tell right now what kind of disciplinary action they will take against the student.