Hints given for pipe bomb attack motive

August 26, 2009 12:04:07 AM PDT
There were new developments in the investigation of Monday's pipe bomb attack at a peninsula high school and more information on the former student that was arrested for it.

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At Hillsdale High School in San Mateo on Monday, police say a former student started what could have turned into a deadly rampage.

Alex Youshock entered the school unnoticed, through the northwest doorway, just after classes began, around 8:00 a.m. They say he made his way down the hallway and stopped in front of the library, exploding two pipe bombs near the door.

Two teachers who heard the blasts confronted him right afterwards, and Youshock started to leave the building. Seconds later, a third teacher tackled him just outside the exit door, and held him as the principal and a fourth teacher joined in to help. That's where police arrested Youshock minutes later.

You can read more here about the teachers who recalled the incident

The biggest question is "Why?" Many wonder what could possibly compel this young suspect to try such a monstrous attack. There are hints of a possible motive.

All the students ABC7 spoke with who knew Alex Youshock at Hillsdale High School say that he was quiet and a loner.

He left this school after completing his sophomore year in the 2007 academic year and was a member of the wrestling team.

One source told ABC7 his parents pulled him out of Hillsdale, but the reasons why are unknown. There are also reports that he went to Peninsula Continuation School, but a school official told ABC7 he was not enrolled there either.

A published report quotes his grandmother, who lives in New Jersey, as saying what happened was "Totally out of character." She says he had been getting straight "A"s in the school he's now attending. He was good with the computer and was talking about going to college.

He lived with his mother and sister in an apartment complex not far from Hillsdale High, but no one has seen any of the family members there today.

In a news conference, Police Chief Susan Manheimer talked about Youshock's state of mind.

"It is painfully clear to us, that the suspect's sole intent was to kill, injure, or commit mayhem to as many students, and school faculty, staff, and administration as possible. And in fact he did have intended targets as well, on the faculty," said Chief Manheimer.

Chief Manheimer would not say what the specific motive was, but she addressed it in general terms. She said "We believe in part the motive was some type of a self-construed revenge for acts that may have been real or perceived on the part of the suspect."

"It's kind of scary because I didn't know he was targeting teacher. I didn't know what his main whatever it was that caused him to do what he was going to carry out," said Lisa Velasquez, a parent.

"I found out the use of the chain saw. I thought at first it was to cut the electrical wires and stuff, but then I found out he wanted to kill everyone. It kind of scared me," said Brittney Washington, a student.

To help ease nerves, the school called an on-campus meeting Tuesday night. Hundreds of students and parents attended. The goal was to bring the community together and start the healing process.

"Each student will get one of these pieces of paper. On it, it asks the student if they would like to talk to someone," said Claire Miller, a counselor.

Students will attend an assembly Wednesday morning -- their first day back since the incident. The principal explained his reason for cancelling classes on Tuesday. He wanted police to fully complete their investigation, without putting students in the middle of it. Tuesday morning, janitors scrubbed away marks left by the two pipe bombs that exploded in the schools hallways.

One published article quotes an unnamed law enforcement source as saying he was angry with two teachers for giving him poor grades. Chief Manheimer also says this attack was something Youshock planned for several months. It was not something that was spontaneous.

The district attorney will file charges on Wednesday morning and Youshock is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon. The suspect was arrested for attempted murder, igniting destructive devices with the intent to murder, possession of destructive devices, possession of destructive devices on school grounds, possession of destructive devices with the intent to injure or destroy property, and assault with deadly weapons.

One source told ABC7 he will likely be tried as an adult.

LINK: San Mateo Union High School District
LINK: Coping with traumatic events

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