Explosive material found in student's book bag

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May 23, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Westside High School was evacuated this morning and a student is now in custody after deputies say a suspicious device was found in his book bag.

18-year-old senior Raymond Smalley is charged with possessing an explosive or destructive device with intent to kill, injure or intimidate individuals or destroy public buildings; possessing a weapon on school property; and carrying a concealed weapon.

Board of Education police tell News 12 his suspicious behavior led to a search of his bag, which turned up an aerosol can with some kind of fuse attached.

Three days to go in the school year, officers were taking no chances today. Students were evacuated to a parking lot across the street, disrupting their exams, and bomb-sniffing dogs, the bomb squad and the fire department were brought in.

No one was hurt, but parents came to the school out of concern for their children.

"My direct thought was Virginia Tech," said parent Stephanie Huff. "It scared me to death. It's so close to home. It was a very frightful feeling. I am right here on Washington Road, so I got in my car and came."

"My first reaction was 'device, that means a bomb is going off'," said parent Juanethea Lord. "That's my first reaction, and as a minister, I started praying, 'Lord, keep my child and the rest of them'."

The school was evacuated earlier this week for a bomb threat. Because this is the second time the school has been evacuated this week, there is a chance students will have to come back to school next week to finish up exams.

Smalley is being held at the Richmond County Jail.

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