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Student accused of setting high school teacher on fire

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Gabriela Peñalba (Credit: Facebook)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A 15-year-old boy was arrested after authorities said he set his teacher on fire during class.

WATE reported that the suspect lit his teacher’s hair and shirt with a lighter when she had her back turned to the class.

The victim was identified as Gabriela Peñalba, a 23-year-old science teacher at West High School in Knoxville. Authorities said it happened around 10:45 a.m. Monday.

Officials said the teacher did not suffer serious burns, as other students quickly helped to put the fire out.

School officials said the student tossed the lighter out of a nearby window and fled, but was soon caught by school resource officers.

The unidentified suspect reportedly confessed to the crime in a police interview. His motive remains unclear.

Authorities said the student was charged with aggravated assault and evading arrest and taken to a juvenile detention facility.

Source: WATE


  • Mr. Papageorgio

    He should be charged as an adult and put in real jail. We need to send a message to these little snots that this type of thing will not be tolerated. I’ll bet the parents will say he didn’t take his medication that day and that the teacher made him mad.

    • Bullwinkle

      I couldn’t agree more. Serious time for serious crime,and setting somebody on fire is about as serious as it gets.

  • Marissa

    Why would he run? Is he that stupid to think that he wouldn’t be found when he did it in front of the whole class? How much of an idiot can you be and how can you actually be walking around on this planet being that stupid? Stupid people should be shot, just to be sure that others don’t catch stupid by accident. Ugh. I can’t stand stupid people. They make my skin crawl.

    • Bullwinkle

      No doubt this rocket scientist though that none of the kids that had been in the same classes with him since he was 6 years old would have recognized him,and he could have gotten away.

      Let’s fact it,rational thought and reason haven’t been taught in schools the last couple of decades.

  • Fred

    This thing has happened through out history. The difference now is that nothing will happen to the boy. He was from a broken home, lived on food stamps and his father beat him. Poor little boy, that mean teacher. The difference is 100 years ago, we would have hung the boy or the town would have tarred and feathered him and run him out of town.

    • JulieNC

      Where does it say that “he was from a broken home, on food stamps, and his father beat him”? I’m sorry, but poor does NOT equal criminal.

  • FaithC

    I agree he is a young man not a child and should be charged as an adult. I am sure some shrink or doctor will say he has this disorder or that and that he is not responsible for his actions. We need to start holding these young people responsible for their actions, things need to change.

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