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Boy Releases Principal As Hostage

February 25, 1999

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ An eighth-grade boy described as a very good student took his principal hostage Wednesday afternoon and held him at gunpoint for about three hours before freeing him unharmed.

The boy surrendered about 90 minutes after releasing Montvale Elementary School Principal Jim Ratledge, Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said.

``He said from the very beginning, `I do not want to hurt anyone,‴ said Dr. Gary Pack, the Blount County schools superintendent.

Montvale Elementary School Principal Jim Ratledge was freed about 5:30 p.m., Berrong said.

The boy brought the gun to school and other students alerted Ratledge, who confronted the boy, Berrong said. The boy pulled the weapon when he was in Ratledge’s office, Berrong said.

No shots were fired and the building was safely evacuated.

Pack described the boy as a very good student who is involved in school activities and has not had any previous disciplinary problems.

Ron Campbell, a former Blount County elementary school principal, said Ratledge is about 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds and cool under pressure.

When Campbell heard Ratledge was being held hostage, ``I did not have a lot of doubt that he could handle it.″

The school has 819 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and is about 20 miles south of Knoxville.