5 teens face charges over mailbox bomb

Here's what not to do with the stuff you learn in science class.

Five Burke County High School students face felony charges for exploding a homemade bottle bomb in their principal's mailbox, according to police in Waynesboro, Ga.

Chief Karl Allen said charges of reckless conduct are pending against the mother of one of the boys, who lives across the street and two doors down from Principal Wayne Hickman.

Suzanne Sharkey, 39, of Edgewood Drive, told an investigator she bought the materials for the device at Wal-Mart. She said she knew the boys were making something that would explode but she saw no harm in it because they were only repeating an experiment they had learned at school, Chief Allen said.

She told police she did not know they would put the device into a mailbox, much less the one belonging to the principal and his wife, Renee, who teaches at the high school.

Authorities don't consider it a harmless prank.

"We do take this serious, and we'll proceed with this matter in the juvenile courts," Chief Allen said.

According to a police incident report, Mr. Hickman went home from work at about 5:20 p.m. Friday and found his mailbox ajar. It appeared the box had been on fire, and a chemical smell was emanating from inside.

Police found melted plastic on top of the Hickmans' mail and shreds of foil on the ground. A tip led to a group of boys who, when interviewed, admitted to playing with household products, Chief Allen said.

Evan Sharkey, 14; Joshua Anderson, 14; Nathan Chance, 15; James Oglesby, 14; and Travis Micots, 14, are charged with unlawful possession, manufacture and transport of a destructive device and with criminal damage to property.

Police haven't decided whether to charge the mother.

James Hyder, an attorney for Burke County schools, would say only that the situation is under investigation, which could lead to a tribunal. He would not say whether the boys have been suspended.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.