OAKLAND — A 10-year-old boy was arrested Tuesday after a $150,000 arson over the weekend at Sobrante Park Elementary School in East Oakland.
The boy, who is not being named by officials, was a student at that school until recently, and had been suspended with the possibility of expulsion, school district spokesman Troy Flint said.
The youth admitted being at the school when the fire started, but told police another juvenile started the fire, Sgt. Barry Donelan said. Investigators were still searching for that juvenile Tuesday.
Firefighters responded to the blaze when it erupted about 6:20 p.m. Sunday in a classroom at the school at 470 El Paseo Drive.
Flames essentially gutted the classroom, with the heat so intense it melted computers and window frames, police said. A water pipe ruptured and there was water damage to hallways, police said.
Authorities said the suspects broke into the classroom and used objects in the room to start a fire before fleeing. The suspects were seen running from the school and residents in the area provided police with information that led to Tuesday's arrest, Donelan said.
No one was reported injured.Though the boy was arrested on suspicion of felony arson, because of his age, police said he was not admitted to a juvenile hall, but instead released to the custody of a parent.
Chief Probation Officer Don Blevins declined to confirm or deny this, citing privacy rules, but said, "You would never book a 10-year-old kid unless it was a serious offense."
While arson is among the most concerning offenses, Blevins said, "if they did it on a weekend when nobody was in the school and nobody was likely to be hurt, that could be a mitigating factor."
Sobrante Park Elementary School was damaged by a suspicious fire at least once before. In May 2008, a fire in a portable art classroom did about $40,000 in damage.
Two brothers, then 12 and 16, who had formerly attended the school, were charged in the incident.