crimesider

Collision Course: Teacher Schools Would-Be Terrorist

(Family Photo/Angelique Vega-Santana)
Photo: Kennet Santana, the Hillsdale High School teacher who tackled a former student armed with chainsaw, sword and explosives.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) One man didn't plan on risking his life. The other didn't plan on living through the day. But when their two paths converged, both their plans would forever be changed.

Kennet Santana, an English language development teacher at Hillsdale High School, doesn't like the 'hero' title that has settled on his shoulders, saying that the only hero in his family is his brother serving in Iraq. But that's exactly what police are calling him and his fellow educators who stepped up when a chainsaw-wielding, sword-carrying, bomb-wearing former student descended on their school.

Santana told reporters at a Tuesday press conference that at around 8am he left his classroom and headed north towards a different part of campus when he heard a loud crash and a female teacher's scream. He immediately turned around and headed towards the sound of the commotion. He was stunned by what he saw.

(KPIX-TV)
Photo: Alex Youshock holds what appear to be explosives, according to law enforcement.

Police say that Alex Youshock, 17, had been planning his revenge on Hillsdale High School for months, apparently in retaliation for being expelled from the school last school year, according to investigators. CBS affiliate KPIX reported that police sources said Youshock spent weeks gathering the components of the arsenal he brought with him, buying galvanized pipes and pipe end caps as well as rubber doorstops, allegedly intending to trap students and teachers in their classrooms after throwing the pipe bombs in, according to police.

Youshock also allegedly purchased the explosive ingredients for the bombs over the internet, and downloaded an internet manual on how to build bombs, according to those same police sources.

The final step in his elaborate plan was to involve his unwitting mother, by asking her to drive him to a friends' house a few blocks from the school, according to investigators.

San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that investigators believe Youshock planned to carry out a "cold-blooded plot of execution," a plan that was thwarted when he crossed paths with the quick-thinking Santana.

When Santana first spotted the young man in the army vest, the teacher told reporters at the Tuesday press conference, he thought he was a student and told him to evacuate to the 31st avenue side of campus. It wasn't until the teen ignored him and kept moving toward the other fleeing teachers and students that Santana realized the danger he posed.

That was when he "decided to close the distance," he told reporters at that same press conference. Santana said he grabbed the boy in a bear hug, pinning his arms to his side. Then he wrestled the teen to the ground and yelled to nearby Principal Jeff Gilbert and counselor Ed Canda for help in holding the boy down until police arrived. At this point, Santana told reporters, it seemed that Youshock had given up his determination, saying "let me go" as he was being held.

"He was not struggling. It was almost like he was defeated," Santana said.

Students were scheduled to be back in class on Wednesday and, by all appearances, Santana would like nothing more than to melt back into his class schedule and be there for his students should they need support while coming to terms with what could have been.

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Photo: Alex Youshock appears behind bullet proof glass for his arraignment in a Redwood City, Calif., courtroom, Aug. 26, 2009.

As for Youshock, he has now been charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder, two counts of detonation of an explosive device, one count of possession of explosive devices and one count of felony possession of deadly weapons (a sword and a chain saw), according to San Mateo Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Finally, Youshock was charged with possession of an explosive device for the purpose of terrorizing others, a charge which Wagstaffe said has never been filed in San Mateo County.

It might be the only thing remarkable about Youshock, the alleged would-be terrorist who was defeated by the high school teacher who ran towards danger instead of away from it.
  • Carlin Miller

Comments

Follow Us