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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pen Bomb Goes Off in School

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) - A high school student was hurt by a "pen bomb" made by a classmate who had been thrown out of another high school for an alleged bomb plot, the injured student claims in court.

Jonathan Cuffee and his mother Gina Williams sued Jessie Bauguess, Bauguess's mother Tracy Bauguess, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education, in Mecklenburg County Court.

Cuffee, now 17, says he was injured when a pen exploded at his school, Turning Point Academy, in October 2010.

"When the plaintiff, Jonathan Cuffee, entered his classroom he pulled the cap off of a ballpoint pen and in doing so an explosion occurred injuring the minor plaintiff," the complaint states.

Cuffee claims "that the pen bomb was manufactured by the defendant, Jessie Bauguess, and placed in the said schoolroom for the purpose of intentionally causing injury to anyone who might pick up the pen."

Cuffee claims that Bauguess's mother, Tracy, knew about her son's use of explosive materials and bomb-making activities, "and assisted and abetted her son in the manufacture of the pen bomb".

Bauguess was transferred to Turning Point for discipline issues after "creating a bomb scare by reporting to other students that the said defendant had a map of the school and sketches of explosive devices," the complaint states.

Turning Point Academy is an alternative school for students with discipline problems.

Cuffee claims the Board of Education knew that Bauguess was a danger to his classmates, but failed to protect students by expelling Bauguess or asking police to investigate him.

Cuffee claims he suffered injuries to his arms and abdomen, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental and emotional injuries.

According to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, the explosive Bauguess used in the pen bomb - triacetone triperoxide (TATP) - is extremely potent and dangerous. Local media reported that police found a large quantity of the explosive inside Bauguess's home.

Bauguess was sentenced to at least 3 years in prison in April, after pleading guilty to malicious use of explosives inflicting injury, malicious damage by explosives and possession of a weapon on school grounds. He also received two suspended sentences and will be placed on "intensive supervised probation" when he is released from prison, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Cuffee and his mother seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence.

They are represented by William Benjamin Smith with Price, Smith, Hargett, Petho & Anderson.

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