SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Teenagers charged with setting a fire that damaged three buildings at Woodburn High School have agreed to a plea deal in which they will no longer face adult charges.
In exchange, Jose Campuzano-Zepeda, 16, Miguel Garcia, 15, and Diego Rodriguez-Alvarez, 15, admitted to juvenile charges of attempted first-degree arson and five counts of recklessly endangering.
Judge Judith Prall will sentence the boys Aug. 27 in juvenile court.
“These are good kids who were fooling around with hand sanitizer,” said John Kolego, Rodriguez-Alvarez’s attorney. “The fire got out of control and that was unfortunate. It was not an intentional arson.”
A student interviewed by police who wasn’t involved in the fire said he saw Rodriguez-Alvarez and Campuzano-Zepeda in the days before the May 11 fire “messing around with hand sanitizer and a lighter.”
The day of the fire, the student said, he saw Campuzano-Zepeda ignite hand sanitizer on the desktop in a computer room next to the school’s wood and metal shops.
The boys reportedly tried to put out the flames with paper towels, which only fueled the blaze. The boys then knocked the fiery bundle onto the floor, which then ignited several cardboard boxes in a closet.