Mother of pen bomber released from jail

by Andrew Batten

The mother of a Mountain Island teen who police say planted an exploding pen at his east Charlotte school posted bond Monday, Nov. 1.

Tracy Bauguess, 37, was released under a $50,000 bond set two weeks after she turned herself in to authorities, according to court documents. A judge initially refused to set her bond during her first court appearance Oct. 22.

Police charged Bauguess with three counts of felony malicious use of explosives causing injury and one count of felony possession of a weapon of mass destruction after a two-day search of her home on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road found large quantities of an unstable explosive. Three firefighters were injured while trying to render the explosive safe.

One of Bauguess’ sons, 16-year-old Jessie Bauguess, used the material to make an exploding pen that detonated in the hand of a 15-year-old boy at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Turning Point Academy on Oct. 18, police say. The boy was transported to the hospital with plastic shrapnel in his chest and burns on his hands.

The pen bomb was intended for Jesse Bauguess’ teacher, according to court documents. Jesse Bauguess told his friends not to pick up the pen but the injured student was not warned. Shrapnel from the explosion was found 15 feet away.

Inside the Bauguess’ house, authorities found several chemical compounds used to make the explosive, which is the same compound used by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. The finished explosive compound was found throughout the house, and an exact copy of the pen that detonated at the school was found on a coffee table.

Because the explosive was so volatile, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s bomb squad had to perform several controlled explosions inside the house to render it safe. One of those explosions blew all the doors off the kitchen cabinets.

There also were burn and scorch marks at the scene “indicating the defendant (Jessie Bauguess) had been testing explosives. … Neighbors said that they had been hearing numerous explosions from the house,” court documents state.

Police charged Jessie Bauguess 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 is still being held in the Mecklenburg County jail under a $500,000 bond. Tracy Bauguess’ 15-year-old son was also arrested, but officials won’t release his name, charges or court proceedings because he’s a juvenile.

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