Silver Chips Online

Arson and bomb attempts made at Springbrook High School last Tuesday

Two students responsible charged and held without bond

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
May 5, 2009
Two Springbrook High School students, 17-year-old Anthony Torrence and 18-year-old Yonata Getachew, were arrested on April 28 for conspiring to "harm school staff, students and cause damage to the school building," according to a press release sent out by the Montgomery County Police Department. Both students have been denied bond after a bond hearing held on April 30. Currently, Torrence and Getachew are being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville, according to Lucille Baur, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police Department.

Over the past four weeks, Torrence and Getachew had been creating plans to attack Springbrook staff and damage school property. On April 20, the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shootings, the students sent a threatening email to Springbrook High School, according to the Gazette. Included in their long-term plans were assaults on guidance counselor Camille Basco and Springbrook principal Michael Durso with weapons and explosive devices.
Springbrook High School students Yonata Getachew (above) and Anthony Nelson Torrence conspired to damage school property and harm school officials. <i>Picture courtesy of the Montgomery County Police Department.</i>
Springbrook High School students Yonata Getachew (above) and Anthony Nelson Torrence conspired to damage school property and harm school officials. Picture courtesy of the Montgomery County Police Department.


Around 12:30 p.m. on April 28, Torrence and Getachew were stopped by Third District Montgomery County police officers after arson attempts in the ROTC hallway of the school, according to the press release. Torrence later revealed the pair's plans to Officer Rodney Barnes, Springbrook's educational facilities officer, during police questioning. Torrence's close relationship to Barnes was influential in this disclosure, according to Baur.

Later in the evening, police arrested the two students after detectives obtained search warrants for Getachew and Torrence's residences, according to the press release. Detectives uncovered materials used to create explosive devices, along with written plans about the school building and about future attacks. "From the evidence we gathered, our detectives determined that the plans they made and the items they made allow us to say that this was a serious attempt," Baur said.

The two students are being charged with three counts of first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to manufacture or possess a destructive device and reckless endangerment. Their trial date has not been set.

Investigations of the students' motives are still continuing, according to Baur. "If we uncover further evidence that corresponds to stronger motives, we will update the community," Baur said.

Blair security has not made any changes to security levels in response to the Springbrook incident. However, the threats have made school administrators more aware of possible problems. "Blair's security is always in a heightened state of awareness," security assistant Everett Campbell said. "This incident would not affect us to do anything different. We'd like to think our children would not get involved in incidents like these, but we are prepared to deal with the situation if it arises."

Durso and the Springbrook counseling department were unavailable for comment.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9194