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CHAMPION Teen faces a charge of explosives at school



Published: Fri, February 15, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



School officials detained the student after his father called police to say he thought his son may have taken a gun to school.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CHAMPION -- High school students here were released an hour early from classes after police said a 17-year-old student brought an explosive device to the school.

Timothy Ben Cook, no street address available, was arrested on a charge of delinquency by way of carrying an explosive device in a school safety zone around 1 p.m. Thursday. He was taken to the county juvenile detention center and is being held until his court appearance, police said.

Police say they expect Cook to appear in court later today.

Police Chief Dennis Steinbeck said Cook did not say why he decided to take the explosive to school. The chief declined to specify the device but said it was equivalent to "two sticks of dynamite." It could have caused "substantial damage" if it had been detonated in the school, Steinbeck said.

Student reaction: "I wasn't scared until I saw the Youngstown Bomb Squad vehicle pull in the parking lot," said Holly Sipusic, an 18-year-old senior at Champion.

Sipusic and her friend, senior Hillary Pegg, said they know Cook and didn't think he would hurt anyone.

"We wanted to make sure there were no more explosives in the school, and we didn't want to search with everyone in the building, so for safety reasons, we sent everyone home," Steinbeck said. He noted the students were dismissed from school around 1:30 p.m. Normal dismissal time is 2:30 p.m., officials said.

Members of the police, the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department, the Youngstown Bomb Squad and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched the school for more explosives but found nothing, Steinbeck said. The search took about 90 minutes.

Steinbeck said a basketball game and teacher-parent conferences that were scheduled for Thursday evening were canceled.

Father called: Police said they received a call Thursday morning from Cook's father saying a gun was missing from the home and that he worried his son may have taken it to school. School officials located Cook and asked if he had a gun.

Officials said that moments after they detained Cook, they found the explosives in his coat.

This is not the first time Cook has been caught with explosive devices. Last month, police said, Cook and a 16-year-old friend took iremite, a highly explosive material, from Cook's garage. Cook's friend's mother found the material in the trunk of her car and called police.

The two teenagers told police at the time that they were going to blow up a tree stump but then realized the explosive might have been too dangerous, so they put it in the trunk of the car.

Iremite is a blasting agent commonly used in gas-well drillings, said Joe DeMatteo of the bomb squad.

Steinbeck said Cook's father used to work in coal mines and had some of the explosive stored in his garage. The father had told police that he didn't know he had it in the garage.

"We don't believe there is any more," Steinbeck said, noting police thought all the explosives in the home were detonated by the bomb squad last month.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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