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School Dropout Charged With Arson

December 20, 2000

MILTON, Pa. (AP) _ A recent high school dropout set off a powerful firecracker at his alma mater and, armed with knives, confronted a vice principal, police said.

No one was hurt.

Paul James Emery, 18, was charged with felonies including arson and aggravated assault.

Police said Emery detonated the oversized M-80 firecracker, equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite, outside a Milton Area High School classroom on Tuesday.

Officers found him in the principal’s office, telling vice principal Thomas W. Morgan that Morgan had ruined his life. Emery had a butcher’s knife and a cooking knife in his pants, along with two more firecrackers, police said.

Emery, who dropped out this fall, was convicted of criminal mischief Dec. 8 and ordered to pay more than $200 for shoving Morgan as the vice principal escorted him in a hallway.

Emery said he was ``suicidal″ because he could no longer attend school dances or basketball games, police said. Emery told police he brought the knives ``in case he ran into the police.″

``I’m done with Mr. Morgan. I’m not going bother that guy anymore,″ Emery told District Justice William F. Kear. ``The whole reason to go there today was to clear things up.″

A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 28. Bail was set at $100,000.

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