High explosives found in Mountain Island home

by Andrew Batten and Christina Ritchie Rogers

Andrew Batten/MIW photo Fire department crews line the 10600 block of Mt. Holly Road on Tuesday, Oct. 19, while hazardous materials and bomb squad crews search a nearby home for explosives. Authorities say two boys who live at the house are responsible for a small explosion at Turning Point Academy that injured a classmate.

A Mountain Island woman surrendered to authorities two days after her two teenage boys were arrested for rigging a pen with explosives that injured a student at a northeast Charlotte school.

Tracy Bauguess turned herself in Wednesday, Oct. 20, two days after a search of her home at 10622 Mt. Holly Road found evidence of the same explosive used by the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. She was charged with three counts of malicious injury by use of an explosive device and one count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

One of her sons, 16-year-old Jesse Bauguess, was arrested minutes after a pen exploded in the hand of a 15-year-old boy at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Turning Point Academy on Monday, Oct. 18. The boy was transported to the hospital with plastic shrapnel in his chest and burns on his hands.

Jesse Bauguess was charged with two counts of felony malicious use of explosive, three counts of felony arson resulting in injury to a firefighter and one misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. He was placed in the Mecklenburg County jail under a $500,000 bond.

“This investigation is still in its early stages. More charges are possible as we move forward,” police spokesman Rob Tufano said in a news release.

Area locked down

Baugess

After the explosion, which happened Monday between 8:30 and 9 a.m., the entire school was evacuated to the gym while investigators from the police department’s bomb squad searched the building for more explosives. The school reopened the next day, without incident.

“We’re just focused on keeping the school open and operating on a normal schedule,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools media representative Paige
Reinhard said.  “Everything else is in the hands of the police.”

The school has not employed any additional security since the incident, Reinhard said. As an alternative school, the campus already has increased security measures such as extra metal detectors and additional school resource officers.

Tuesday was “a normal day for everybody,” Reinhard added.

Shortly after the explosion at the school, officers from the police department’s arson task force and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms surrounded the Mt. Holly Road house.

There, they found and arrested Jesse Baugess’ 15-year-old brother, whose name has not been released.

Inside, authorities found the explosive triacetone triperoxide, which Tufano called, “extremely potent and unstable.” It was so unstable that a spontaneous detonation of the substance injured three firefighters during initial testing of a minute sample of the material.

“All three members were treated and released for injuries which could have been more devastating,” Tufano said.

Investigators found a significant quantity of the explosive and materials used to make the substance, which “was capable of extreme damage and loss of life within the community,” Tufano added.

Police officers began restricting access to the area around the home mid-day Monday and closed Mt. Holly Road at Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road and at Sonoma Valley Drive. Authorities eventually evacuated several homes in the area while bomb squad technicians performed controlled explosions inside the house to render the material safe.

Those explosions caused “significant structural damage to the residence,” Tufano said.

Residents were able to return to their homes on Tuesday but travel through the area was limited while the bomb squad and hazardous material teams cleared the home of additional explosives and the chemicals used to make them.

Authorities reopened Mt. Holly Road about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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