Pen bomb was targeted at a teacher, court documents say - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Pen bomb was targeted at a teacher, court documents say

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Tracy Bauguess turned herself in to CMPD on Wednesday morning (Source: Mecklenburg County Jail) Tracy Bauguess turned herself in to CMPD on Wednesday morning (Source: Mecklenburg County Jail)
Jessie Bauguess (Photo courtesy of the Mecklenburg County Jail) Jessie Bauguess (Photo courtesy of the Mecklenburg County Jail)
A HAZMAT team uses 2 robots to detonate items found in the house Tuesday morning. A HAZMAT team uses 2 robots to detonate items found in the house Tuesday morning.
Police searched the teens' house on Mount Holly Road Monday afternoon. Police searched the teens' house on Mount Holly Road Monday afternoon.
Police said there was a small explosion in a classroom at Turning Point Academy Monday morning. Police said there was a small explosion in a classroom at Turning Point Academy Monday morning.
Charlotte, NC -

By Jeff Rivenbark - email
Kay Johnson - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The pen bomb that exploded at a Charlotte school earlier this week was intended for a teacher and had been placed on the teacher's desk, court documents in the case say.

The teen charged in the incident, Jessie Bauguess, 16, told investigators he was targeting a teacher at Turning Point Academy, a court document obtained by WBTV says.

Related: Click here to view the document

Bauguess, who documents say warned friends away from the rigged pen before it blew up on another student, was charged with various felony bomb-making allegations and is being held on $500,000 bond.

Also in court documents, Assistant District Attorney Madelaine Colbert said that a Charlotte firefighter suffered permanent hearing loss after a chemical blast that took place as material was being taken from Bauguess' home on Mount Holly Road.

Firefighters tell WBTV the firefighters hearing has not been lost.

The court documents also confirm that Baugess had been expelled from Vance High school  after bomb threats there. The document, a motion to increase bond, also said the pen bomb blast at the school went 15 feet -- and that there was an identical pen bomb found on a dining room table at the Bauguess home.

Jessie Bauguess' mother, Tracy, was also charged in the case earlier this week and is being held without bond after surrendering to police Wednesday.

Tracy Bauguess had a short -- less than a minute -- hearing Thursday afternoon. She will be appointed an attorney and her next bond hearing is Nov. 1. During the short court appearance via video Thursday, her mother showed up crying. Baugesses other son, a 15-year-old will also appear in court Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department issued an arrest warrant for malicious use of explosives, and possession of weapons of mass destruction against  Bauguess. 

So far, the younger son has not been charged, but her other son, Jessie, 16, has five felony charges related to the incident at the school, Turning Point Academy.

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According to the CMPD, the explosive in which Jessie Bauguess used is called triacetone triperoxide (TATP).

Islamic militants refer to triacetone triperoxide as the "Mother of Satan", and it is same compound in which shoe bomber Richard Reid used in his attempt to blow up a US plane.

During the teen's second court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Reporter Steve Crump spoke with his grandmother. 

"It was a sorry prank, really, I don't condone anything like that," said Tracy Bauguess's mother, Elaine Cochrane.  "She's a hard-working, single parent and trying to make a home for her kids, and it just blowed up out of proportion."

We also spoke with the teen's father who is no longer married to Tracy Bauguess.

"I'm not gonna say anything until my attorney says I can," Curt Bauguess said.

 During Monday's incident, a student was hurt and the rest of the students at the school were immediately evacuated to the gym. 

 Within minutes of the explosion, North Division School Resource Officer J. D. Williams found Jessie Bauguess.  

The CMPD's bomb squad also conducted three sweeps of the school looking for any other possible explosive devices on campus.  During one sweep, officials found a hidden stash of marijuana, but no other explosives were found.

Monday afternoon, police went to Jessie Bauguesses' home at 10622 Mt. Holly Road where they found his 15-year-old bother who was also taken into custody.  The younger brother has not been charged with anything at this time.  

During a search of the home, three firefighters suffered minor injuries when a product they were testing exploded.  The firefighters were treated and released at a local hospital. 

A short time later, Jessie Bauguess was charged with five felony counts: malicious use of explosive damage to property (1 count), malicious use of explosives injury (1 count), and arson/unlawful burning resulting in serious injury to firefighter (3 counts).  In addition, he was charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of weapon on school grounds.  

Bauguess is being held at the Mecklenburg County jail under a $500,000 bond, which was increased from his original bond amount of $47,500.  His was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

Early Tuesday morning, the CMPD Bomb Squad, and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ATF returned to Bauguesses' home to continue searching for explosive items. 

Around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sky 3 was over the backyard of the house while the bomb squad used two robots to remove items from the house.  Reporter Sarah Batista was in the neighborhood behind a police barricade and she heard at least two loud explosions.

Police say the bomb squad was able to identify the explosive that was used in the pen bomb explosion at Turning Point Academy.  Police said the explosive - triacetone triperoxide (TATP) - is extremely potent and unsafe, they found a large quantity of the explosive inside the home.  Police said the amount in the home "...was capable of extreme damage and loss of life within the community."

Around 4:45 p.m. the CMPD said the house was "rendered safe" and the Charlotte Fire Department's HAZMAT team was allowed to enter the house to collect items for evidence.  EPA experts arrived late in the day to clean up the home and was turned over to its owner around 6 p.m. 

The Bauguess' were renting the home.  Their landlord is concerned who will pay for the damages.  The city says it is not responsible for the cleanup.  Officials say since the house was damaged because of a criminal investigation, they are in the clear.

The landlord must collect money from the Bauguess' to make repairs.

Mark Heekin from the Charlotte School of Law says that will be hard.  He says landlords should protect themselves when renting their property out.

"Have a provision in the lease that the tenant will be required to carry not only renters insurance," Heekin said.  "But also liability insurance on the property and even make it a requirement the landlord be named as additional insurer."

City Code Enforcement have posted signs indicating the property is unsafe and that no one should enter the home.  The county is expected to evaluate the property in the next few days to determine what should be done to the home.          

According to a spokeswoman with Presbyterian Hospital, the student who was injured, Jonathan Cuffey, was treated and released from their facility in Huntersville.

Turning Point Academy is an alternative school within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District for students who have experienced disciplinary problems at other CMS schools.

It is the 6th CMS school that Bauguess has attended.  Previous schools include Pawtucket Elementary School, Westerly Hills Elementary School, Paw Creek Elementary School, Couldwood Middle School, and Vance High School, which he attended last year as a freshman.

One of Jessie Bauguesses' classmates said Bauguess was sent to Turning Point Academy because he had previously threatened to blow up schools. 

During a media briefing Wednesday morning, Superintendent Peter Gorman said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is now talking with the CMPD and the Charlotte Fire Department about what can be done to keep students and staff safe at Turning Point Academy.

Gorman said CMS is not equipped to handle the deep challenges students come to school with.

He also added that Turning Point Academy has been the victim of recent budget cuts.  In the past, he said there were as many as seven security associates present on campus, but now there are only four.  

Gorman said one of the things officials are considering is not allowing students at the school to use pens. 

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