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Suspended student holds teacher, class hostage

A 17-year-old high school student held a teacher and six students at gunpoint in a classroom Monday, gradually freeing them before surrendering to police eight hours later. The student, Eli Dean, made no demands and fired no shots, and negotiators communicated with him over the school's intercom system during the standoff, said state police Sgt. Marvin Jenkins.

Dean, a senior, had been suspended from school twice during the past two weeks. He returned to the school late Monday morning with a handgun, officials said.

The rest of the 643-student school was evacuated onto the school football field.

Police said Dean surrendered about 7:20 p.m. after releasing his final hostage, believed to be a male cousin.

Hostage negotiators were at the school, and two state police chaplains were flown in. Members of Dean's family also were present, including his father, Robin, a civilian employee of the state police.

Jenkins said snipers had been positioned around the school.

Dean let his teacher leave first and then freed the students, nearly all of them individually.

The youth's stepfather, Rocky Williams of Charlestown, said he believed Dean had taken his .44-caliber pistol to the school. State police said they did not know what type of weapon the boy had.

Williams said his stepson was suspended about two weeks ago after he accidentally set off a fire alarm. He was suspended again last week for breaking a window, Williams said.

"He was falling behind in his school work and was upset," his stepfather said.

Police refused to speculate on motives.

"Maybe the fact that he's 17 years old is as much reason as anything," Jenkins said.