A 17-year-old St. Thomas More student is accused of trying to poison a fellow student using sodium hydroxide, a chemical compound commonly used in drain cleaners.
The student was arrested on a count of aggravated battery with a dangerous weapon Monday at 4:53 p.m. and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, according to an arrest report. Bond for the St. Thomas More student was set at $20,000, and he was released Monday evening after posting, a clerk at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center confirmed.
The Acadiana Advocate has chosen to withhold the name of the juvenile.
The initial incident report detailed that a 32-oz bottle containing sodium hydroxide and a 12-oz plastic bottle were involved in the incident. The alleged poisoning took place about 1:45 p.m. Oct. 9 in the 400 block of East Farrel Road, the report said.
St. Thomas More Catholic High School is located at 450 East Farrel Road.
No other details were included in either the initial report or the arrest report, barring a note citing the incident involved a juvenile.
Multiple people connected to the school have said a chemical was put into a student's drink, possibly in retaliation for a bullying situation.
Sodium hydroxide is also known as caustic soda or lye and contact can severely irritate the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. It is also toxic by ingestion and corrosive to metals and tissue, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The compound has a wide range of uses, and is commonly used in commercial drain cleaners, like Drano.
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No information has been released as to the condition of any student who may have come into contact with the chemical. In a statement from the Diocese of Lafayette, diocesan communications director Blue Rolfes said the incident involved three students and medical attention was required for those involved.
“The Diocese of Lafayette is aware of an incident last week involving three students at St. Thomas More High School. When the incident occurred, the school's administrative team, along with the school resource officer, immediately followed all proper protocols, providing medical care to the students involved and notifying parents and law enforcement, in accordance with Diocesan policy and civil law,” the statement said.
“Following the school's internal investigation of the incident, necessary disciplinary action was taken,” it concluded.
Additional clarification about the disciplinary action was not provided.
The juvenile accused was booked into the parish jail instead of the Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Center because his offense was considered violent. Under Louisiana’s Raise the Age Act, 17-year-olds can be charged as adults for violent offenses until July 1, 2020, when they will officially be shifted to the juvenile justice system.
The first phase of the Raise the Age Act took effect March 1 and declared that 17-year-olds arrested for nonviolent offenses would be handled by the juvenile justice system.
Two 17-year-old students at Eunice High were arrested in May on counts of mingling harmful substances, a felony, after mixing Krud Kutter into a teacher’s drink and filming the encounter during a “prank.” The offense was considered nonviolent and the students were not charged as adults, Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot said.