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Student held in alleged attack on teacher, classmate

April 22, 2011 |  5:20 pm

Morehead A senior at West High School in Torrance was in custody and facing assault and arson charges Friday after allegedly attacking his teacher and a classmate.

Jessie Morehead, 18, is accused of lighting a roll of paper towels on fire and throwing it as his teacher and then stabbing a female classmate Wednesday afternoon, said Torrance police Sgt. Jeremiah Hart.

The incident, first reported by the Daily Breeze, occurred about 1:30 p.m. Morehead, who was in custody Friday, is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted arson and possession of a weapon on campus, Hart said.

The alleged confrontation began at the start of the class period when Morehead’s teacher told him to sit down. Morehead then lit the paper towel and "made a comment to the effect of 'this is what I think about your class,' " Hart said.

The teacher called security and ordered the rest of the class to evacuate the room. But before the students left, Morehead allegedly grabbed a female classmate and began stabbing her with a knife. The blade tore through her jacket and shirt, but only scratched her torso, producing a minor laceration, authorities said.

Morehead also allegedly struck his teacher when she tried to restrain him, Hart said. At that point, a male student rushed over and tackled Morehead. The male student pinned him down until authorities arrived.

Hart said the incident was "very unusual" for West High, which has more than 2,000 students.

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-- Sam Allen

Photo: Jessie Morehead. Credit: Torrance Police Department

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