clock Dec 9, 2005 9:47 am US/Pacific

SoCal Student Admits Rigging Exploding Pens

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(AP) ROSEMEAD A student admitted rigging pens that exploded and injured three people at two high schools as revenge for being expelled, a detective said.

El Monte police arrested the 17-year-old Rosemead High School student on Wednesday after an anonymous phone tip led them to search his home.

They said they found explosive materials and books he allegedly used to learn how to booby-trap the pens to detonate when uncapped. Victims who found them lying on the ground at Rosemead and El Monte high schools suffered minor burns and scratches on their hands and faces.

"He admitted this was stupid," said El Monte Police Det. Dennis Miller. "It's a very serious offense. I wouldn't consider it a prank. ... It could have turned into something that caused far more injury, and even death, than it did."

The teen's name was not released because he is a minor. He was being held at Juvenile Hall on suspicion of using a destructive device and possession of bomb-making components, both felonies. The district attorney was to get the case Friday to decide whether to bring charges.

"It could have turned into something that caused far more injury, and even death, than it did," Miller said.

Nick Salerno, an assistant superintendent of the El Monte Union High School District, which includes both campuses, expressed relief.

"Honestly, I have no comprehension of why anyone would do anything like that," Salerno said.

Since his expulsion, the boy has been trying to get his diploma in an off-campus study program, Miller said.

School officials and the detective declined to say when and why he was expelled.

In the first incident, at Rosemead High School on Aug. 24, a construction worker picked up a pen near a line of students.

In September, a Rosemead resident picked up a pen outside the school's fence. Last week, a student picked up a felt-tip pen in a restroom at El Monte High School.

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