Heroic Teacher Prevents Catastrophe

By Bryan Toporek — August 25, 2009 1 min read
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A high school teacher in San Mateo, Calif., is being credited with preventing a Columbine-style massacre yesterday. Kenneth Santana, an English-language development teacher at Hillsdale High School, subdued a student who came to school with 10 armed pipe bombs, a sword, and a chainsaw, as reported by local news station KTVU.

After leaving his classroom to make copies yesterday morning, Santana heard two loud crashes while in the school office and, as teachers and students fled from the scene, he headed to investigate the source.

He then saw a student wearing a military-style vest emerge from some nearby glass doors. Santana instinctively dove at the boy, tackling him to the ground.

“It was a reaction, it was really quick,” Santana said. “After I had my hands on him, I made decisions about what I wanted to do. But closing the distance and grabbing the young man, there wasn’t a lot thinking involved in that.”

Once Santana had the student on the ground, he saw that the teen had a pipe bomb in his pocket.

“I put him in a bear hug and then I decided to flip him and put him on the ground,” he continued. “That’s when the thinking came in -- I thought -- ’If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize to his parents later and if I’m right I’m going to hold this kid down.’”

The 17-year-old student is currently in police custody, pending charges.

“I definitely feel like I did the right thing,” Santana told KTVU. “When I think about the risk, I never really looked at his hands, so thinking back, if he had something in his hands that would have been bad for me.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.