Eight students arrested over school bomb plot

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Authorities arrested eight California students for allegedly making threats that included a plot to put a bomb on a teacher's desk and the creation of a hit list.

Authorities arrested eight California students for allegedly making threats that included a plot to put a bomb on a teacher's desk and the creation of a hit list.

In the desert town of Twentynine Palms, two 17–year–old boys were arrested at their homes on Tuesday night on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder and civil rights violations.

At one of the boys' homes, deputies found a rifle. At the other, there was a list of 16 fellow students at Monument High that the pair planned to target, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokesman Chip Patterson said. The teens' motives were unknown.

Police said they were tipped by a classmate, who told her father she had overheard the boys discussing a hit list in recent weeks. She came forward after a student in suburban San Diego on Monday opened fire at his high school, killing two students and wounding 13 others.

Also on Tuesday, three junior high school students in San Bernardino County were arrested for threatening to place a bomb on a teacher's desk, authorities said. Classmates at Woodcrest Junior High alerted the principal.

The two 12–year–olds and a 13–year–old talked about the plot last week after one of the boys had a disagreement with a teacher, Ontario Detective Mike Macias said. But no bomb–making materials were found at their homes.

"It was no secret that these three kids were going to carry this out," Macias said. "They were planning to plant the bomb this Friday."

Police said the boys cried and confessed during questioning.

In two other incidents, two teens were arrested at their schools in Perris.

At Perris High, school guards found a 4–inch knife in the backpack of Luis Benavides, 18, and he was arrested for investigation of possession of a weapon. Deputies found two rifles and ammunition at his home.

"He made the comment that he needed help because he felt like killing somebody," said sheriff's spokesman Sgt Mark Lohman. "The teacher, in light of everything that's going on, took this very seriously."

In the second arrest, a woman was enrolling her son at the Perris Community Day School for troubled youth when, according to a sheriff's report, the 14–year–old told an administrator: "If you make me come here, I'll bring a gun and shoot the place up." The boy was taken to a juvenile jail.

And at Wheatland High, an hour north of Sacramento, a boy was arrested after he allegedly threatened to bring a gun to school and kill people. He was released after authorities determined he did not have immediate access to guns.

Outside California, authorities dealt with a rash of similar school–related incidents.

In Charles Town, West Virginia, an 18–year–old was charged with assault on Tuesday for allegedly threatening a school administrator via e–mail. Sara Elizabeth Turner, apparently angry over a graduation delay, was accused of telling the school board president in a February 11 letter: "I will put you in so much pain that you will wish you were dead."

At a parochial school in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a 14–year–old girl allegedly shot 13–year–old Kimberly Marchese in the shoulder after a feud between the girls.

In Camden, New Jersey, a 15–year–old honour student was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot members of a clique in wood shop class. Police said the boy, whose identity was not disclosed, may have been angry about comments made about his father, who died last year. No weapons were found at his home.

Also, a student was arrested after brandishing a gun and ordering students out of a classroom at Kentwood High School in the Seattle suburb of Covington, county sheriff's spokesman Bob Conner said.

The 16–year–old pulled out the gun during class and told the students to leave, Conner said.

A student with a gun on the grounds of Pilgrim Park Middle School in suburban Milwaukee was taken into custody without incident, police said. No students were threatened or injured.

In Arizona, police in a Phoenix suburb arrested Jacob James Robinson, 14, for allegedly threatening to kill three eighth–grade girls and their families if they testified against another 14–year–old, Sean Botkin, who is accused of holding a teacher and students hostage at gunpoint in October.

An eighth grader in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was charged as a juvenile with threatening a bombing or fire. The Watson Chapel school superintendent said a letter written by the student was directed against minorities.