Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

15-year-old student arrested after acid bomb found at Wesley Chapel High

WESLEY CHAPEL — Debra Ramos got a text message from a friend Tuesday morning saying some type of bomb detonated in front of Wesley Chapel High School. Ramos' two sons go to school there. She raced over to the campus and saw it was locked down and wrapped with crime scene tape. She demanded to be let inside to see her sons.

"The deputy was a saint. She was so sweet and reassuring," Ramos said. "She said everything was okay and they were safe."

The panic-inducing reports of a bomb at the school was the work of a 15-year-old student who made a "Works Bomb" and put it in a trash can in the school courtyard, near the gym, authorities said. The device is created by mixing The Works toilet bowl cleaner with other household items inside a plastic container. The chemical reaction causes the sealed container to explode.

The sophomore, whom the Times is not naming due to his age, was arrested and charged with making and discharging a destructive device, a felony, and disrupting the school campus, a misdemeanor.

No one was injured in the incident, although a school administrator felt sick from the bomb's fumes. The employee was treated by medical staff at the scene.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said the school was on a modified lockdown from 7:30 a.m. until about 10 a.m. An assistant principal noticed something smoking in a garbage can just after classes started, school district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said.

The school called 911. Students were required to remain in their classrooms until the lockdown was lifted.

Pasco County Fire Rescue responded to the scene to clean up the mess. Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said such devices are commonly called acid bombs.

"It's along the lines of baking soda and vinegar," Doll said.

Doll said it was not considered a serious threat. "Kids make these all the time," he said.

Ramos said her sons called about 9:30 a.m. to say they were okay. Ramos still felt rattled Tuesday afternoon.

"You never think it would happen at your kids' school," she said. "It was a scary, scary feeling."

Staff writers Erin Sullivan and Danny Valentine and photographer Stephen J. Coddington contributed to this report.

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