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Student bottle bomb suspects suspended

February 4, 2014 - 7:21am

Two Hilo High School students who are accused of setting off a small explosive device at the school on Thursday have each been suspended for six days, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman.

The 16-year-olds were arrested Thursday afternoon and taken into custody while detectives from the Juvenile Aid Section of the Hawaii Police Department took over the case. Juvenile aid officer Lt. Lucille Melemai said Monday the boys are suspected of terroristic threatening, a felony, but that the investigation is continuing.

“They are not in custody,” she said. “They were released Thursday evening.”

Melemai said she could not identify the boys, as they are still juveniles, adding she did not yet know what kind of punitive action could be taken against them if they are charged and found guilty of terroristic threatening.

“It really depends on the child,” she said. “It’s a family court proceeding, so I will have to discuss this with the prosecutors, and I’ll make a determination at that time.”

According to DOE Director of Communications and Community Affairs Donalyn Dela Cruz, the boys were suspended by Hilo High Principal Robert Dircks in accordance with DOE policy.

“In this case … the police were involved, and they (the boys) were suspended for violation of Chapter 19 (of the school system’s policy). Specifically, disorderly conduct, insubordination and leaving a classroom during a lockdown without authorization.”

As the students have not yet been determined to have been directly responsible for the possession or setting off of the explosive device, the school has not punished them accordingly.

Dela Cruz added that if the criminal investigation identifies one or both of the students as the perpetrators, they could be found to have violated the section of DOE policy that deals with students bringing firearms or explosives onto campus, which would call for “suspensions exceeding 10 days.”

Hilo High went into lockdown shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday after a small explosive device detonated in an open corridor near the school’s auditorium. No one was injured as a result of the explosion. Police responding to the scene found the remnants of a plastic liquid container and an unidentified liquid substance.

Hawaii Police Lt. Greg Esteban said that the device was a small plastic bottle filled with chemicals that is then shaken up to begin a chemical reaction which causes the bottle to explode, making a loud noise but not causing much damage. He did say, however, that if other students or staff members had been close to it, the device could have caused injury.

The lockdown was lifted at the school around 1 p.m.

Email Colin M. Stewart at

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