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Teen arrested, expelled for 'science project gone bad'

10:09 AM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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BARTOW, Fla. - No one ever expected to see a mug shot from 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot.

The teenager is known among staff for her exemplary record at Bartow High School and her status as a good student.

"She is a good kid," said principal Ron Pritchard. "She has never been in trouble before. Ever."

All of that changed on Monday morning.

The teen is accused of mixing household chemicals in a tiny 8-ounce water bottle, causing the top to pop off, followed by billowing smoke in an small explosion.

Wilmot's friends and classmates said it was "a science project gone bad, that she never meant to hurt anyone."

Even the teen's principal said, "She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don't think she meant to ever hurt anyone. She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked too."

The explosion happened around 7 a.m. Monday morning on school property, and no one was hurt. Staff, along with the school resource officer, acted quickly.

The principal told 10 News, "She told us everything and was very honest. She didn't run or try to hide the truth. We had a long conversation with her."

So, was this curiosity? Was it a science project gone wrong or a true bomb plot? Those who know the teen insist that this was nothing sinister.

"She just wanted to see what happened to those chemicals in the bottle," one teen said. "Now, look what happened."

Wilmot was arrested Monday morning and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device.

The teen was expelled and will now complete her education in an expulsion program.

Chelsey Turner, a student, weighed in. "I don't think she's that type of person. She wouldn't hurt anyone."

"I heard she didn't want to hurt anyone at all," said another student, Dynequa Price. "It was a science project."

School officials are urging parents to have an open and honest conversation with kids about playing around or pulling pranks on school property.

Polk County Schools released this statement today:

"Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff."

Wilmot has a twin sister who also attends school at Bartow High. We asked one student how the teen's sibling reacted to the news about the arrest. "Someone asked her about it in class and she started crying and ran out."

When 10 News approached the front door at the family's home, the voice of a teen girl yelled out, "You've blown everything out of proportion!"

10 News offered the family a chance to make a statement, and relatives declined.

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