A 15-year-old student at Seattle’s Center School entered a not-guilty plea Friday morning to possession of an incendiary device after allegedly bringing a Molotov cocktail and a butane lighter to school on Monday, according to King County prosecutors. He also pleaded not guilty to felony harassment, a charge connected to alleged threats made by him last week to shoot two classmates with an assault rifle.
The boy, who was charged in King County Juvenile Court, was ordered to remain in detention on Friday, said prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe.
The school’s principal, Oksana Britsova, was put on paid administrative leave following the student’s arrest on Monday, pending a district review to ensure all protocols were followed, said Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard.
While the district said school officials immediately reported recovering the Molotov cocktail to police, questions remain about what happened before and after the incident, Howard said.
BiHoa Caldwell, a retired Seattle Public Schools principal, has stepped in as principal at the school while the district investigates Britsova’s response.
According to charging documents, the boy was fixated on a girl at school and was angry “because he has no one to sit with and does not get along with any of the people” at school.
The Seattle Times is not naming the boy because he is charged as a juvenile.
On Oct. 23, the boy was following around a group of friends, including the girl, when he apparently pressed a fire alarm and then told classmates “he was going to go get his AR-15 and shoot all of them,” the charging documents say. The students told Britsova about the threat, say the charges, but it is not clear if the principal reported the shooting threat to police.
On Monday, a male student, who was among those threatened the week before, saw the 15-year-old in the food court area of the armory at Seattle Center, where the school is also located, according to the charges. The 15-year-old walked up to the other student’s table around 8:45 a.m., said “promise you won’t tell,” and showed the students sitting there what appeared to be a bottle of liquor tucked into his inside coat pocket, charging papers say. The students, who thought the bottle looked like a bomb, went to Britsova and told her of their suspicions, the papers say.
The 15-year-old was seen pulling out a lighter, but when he spotted the principal, he placed the lighter in a trash can and hid the bottle behind a food-court sign, according to the charging papers. The bottle and lighter were found soon after by the same male student who was allegedly threatened earlier. That boy placed the Molotov cocktail — made with a mixture of whiskey, lighter fluid and wasp and hornet killer — inside his backpack, along with the lighter, and took them to Britsova’s office, the charges say.
The 15-year-old’s stepfather searched him before he went to school that morning “because of prior issues,” the charges say, but details were not explained. When his stepfather went to the bathroom, the boy went to his room, where he had hidden the Molotov cocktail, and put it in his coat pocket, then began showing it off in the food court when he got to school, charging papers say. He soaked a string from a hooded sweatshirt in lighter fluid, then pulled it through a hole he had drilled into the bottle cap as a fuse, according to the papers.
The boy apparently thought the other students “would think he was cool for knowing how to make a Molotov but instead he got snitched on,” the charges say.