Garner student arested for exploding Drano bomb at school

kjahner@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

— A Garner Magnet High School student was arrested Jan. 3 and charged with possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction after setting off a “Drano bomb” on campus.

Andrew Garrett Eye, 18, allegedly set off the explosion at about 10:45 a.m. last Friday outside a mobile classroom. No one was hurt by the blast resulting from the mixing of drain-cleaner and aluminum foil in a sealed two-liter bottle, and there was no property damage. Garner police do not believe Eye meant to hurt anyone.

“I don’t think I’d use the word prank because it is something that could harm people, but we don’t think there was any intent to harm people,” police spokesman Lt. Chris Clayton said.

State law classifies possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction – which includes any explosive device – as a Class F felony. A Class F felony conviction carries a 13-16 month sentence for first-time offenders, 10-13 months with mitigating circumstances, according to the state court website’s guidelines.

Wake County Public Schools spokesman Samiha Khana said the school’s discipline would be handled in privacy for the sake of the student. WCPSS policy and state law call for a 365-day suspension for possession of an explosive device unless modified by the superintendent or school board, and principals are required by policy to inform law enforcement.

Neither Eye nor his parents could be reached for comment.

In “Drano bombs” the drain cleaner and foil chemically react, producing enough hydrogen to build up pressure and cause the bottle to explode. The noise can resemble a gunshot; Clayton said it was clearly heard in nearby classrooms. Anyone standing in close proximity faces risk of laceration from bottle pieces or chemical burns from lye produced in the reaction.

A drano bomb set off on school grounds has made waves before. In Bartlow, Fla., police arrested Kiera Wilmont for setting one off at her high school. The case made some national news outlets as she was initially expelled and criminally charged. Backlash ensued, with some questioning the wisdom of such harsh penalties for a 16-year-old honor student for the blast that didn’t hurt anyone.

Charges against Wilmont were eventually dropped by authorities and her expulsion reduced to suspension. A sympathetic 18-year NASA veteran named Homer Hickam stepped in and purchased scholarships for Wilmont and her twin sister to attend NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, according to ABC News.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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