Three Deltona Middle School students are facing criminal charges for allegedly spiking a soda with spicy hot pepper that sickened their teacher, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office launched its investigation after being notified of the incident on Thursday. By early Friday evening, three 12-year-old girls were under arrest.
According to investigators, the incident was caused by a student who was angry about being disciplined.
On Monday, the teacher, a 52-year-old woman, referred one of her students to the principal’s office for dumping glue into another student’s backpack and for suspicion of stealing a laptop computer. Angry at her teacher and wanting to get back at her, officials said the girl came up with the idea of pouring something into the teacher’s drink.
On Tuesday, the child grabbed crushed red pepper from her house and brought it to school, officials said. When the teacher took a sip from the tampered soda on Tuesday, her throat immediately became hot and scratchy and she started to choke and experience shortness of breath, officials said. After taking a second sip, the teacher poured the rest of the soda into a clear plastic cup and noticed the flecks of red pepper. Meanwhile, she continued to suffer from a sore, scratchy throat and stomach pains that lasted into the evening.
While school officials were able to identify which child was the culprit, the investigation revealed that two other students also were involved.
During second period on Tuesday, the child grabbed the teacher’s open can of soda and brought it back to her desk. She then handed the crushed pepper to another student, who dumped it into the soda can. The student then put the soda can back on the teacher’s desk. A third student was also was in on the plan, distracting the teacher while the other two were tampering with the soda.
Two students are being charged with poisoning food or water and tampering with consumer products. A third student is being charged with tampering with consumer products and being a principal to poisoning food or water.
All charges are felony offenses.
Sheriff’s investigators wrote in the charging affidavits: “It should be noted, this act was done in retaliation for the teacher upholding her duties and responsibilities as a teacher, maintaining control of her classroom and attempting to protect the other children from [student’s] unacceptable behavior.”
The three students are expected to be transported to the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Daytona Beach.