SAVANNAH - Savannah Country Day students could face up to 20 years in prison for manufacturing an explosive device, police said.
At least three students, ages 14-15, are the target of an investigation into why the bomb was made and why it ended up at the southside private school last week, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said.
In addition to the students, investigators are questioning several parents and school officials.
Whether they will face charges is up to the Chatham County District Attorney's office, Sgt. Wilson said.
Investigators are also probing why police were not called until Saturday afternoon.
A student brought the homemade bomb to school Wednesday and handed it to another student, according to the initial police report.
The device, which was contained in a brown paper bag, consisted of gunpowder, BBs, a firecracker, metal shavings, colored paper and dried vegetation, the report says.
The second student took the bomb home. He brought it back to school Friday, police said.
School administrators tucked the bomb away in a safe in the athletic director's office and waited until Saturday to call police.
"The initial representation was that this was a harmless device intended as a prank between the students," headmaster Tom Bonnell stated in a letter posted Sunday evening on the school's Web site.
"On midday Saturday, when we were finally able to reach the parent of the student who made the device and to have an additional conversation with the student, it became apparent that the device was potentially explosive. We contacted the authorities immediately."
Mr. Bonnell said the school was empty Friday night and no one was at risk.
Police are still investigating to determine if anyone was near the device, Sgt. Wilson said.
"The materials themselves could have self-initiated with the smallest amount of heat, shock, or friction," Sgt. Wilson said. "Anyone who handled the device on or off the premises was in danger of being injured had the device detonated."
On Saturday, police seized fireworks from a student's home, Sgt. Wilson said.
Two students have been removed from the school, but no arrests have been made. The students could face charges of manufacturing a destructive device, which carries three to 20 years in prison, Sgt. Wilson said.