Police: Man set mom ablaze, held teacher hostage

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Texas man set fire to his mother, then went to a nearby school and tried to sexually assault a teacher at knifepoint before the superintendent broke down the door to help free her, police and school officials said Monday.

George James Bradley, 32, was arrested on attempted murder, aggravated assault and attempted aggravated sexual assault charges after the morning incident at Rise Academy, Lubbock police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Stewart said. Bradley was to be arraigned after being transferred from the city’s holding facility to the county jail later Monday, and he does not yet have an attorney, Stewart said.

Bradley’s mother was able to run to a neighbor’s apartment after he poured a flammable liquid on her and set her on fire, according to Lubbock police. She was listed in critical condition with third-degree burns at a Lubbock hospital.

Bradley walked into the school office about 9 a.m., announced that he’d killed his mother and asked the secretary to call 911, said Audrey Saldivar, a school administrator. Then he became agitated, locked the office door, pulled out a knife and forced a teacher into Superintendent Richard Baumgartner’s office, she said.

“It was just random,” Saldivar told The Associated Press by phone from the Lubbock school, about 300 miles northwest of Fort Worth. “We didn’t know what was happening.”

Baumgartner told the AP that he had been notified of the situation and was walking toward the office, but when he saw the suspect lock the door, he entered a back door to the office as several staff members ran out.

“I heard screams, and realized someone else was still in there, so I started kicking the door open,” he said. “I just reacted to an instinct. I made a split-second decision, because I knew he had a knife and there was somebody in there screaming for their life. I just thought that I had to enter that space and prevent violence from being done.”

Baumgartner said he fell backward as the door opened and the suspect came out swinging the knife, which grazed him. The man did not say anything as he stared at Baumgartner, who then got up and grabbed a chair, before he walked toward the front of the office.

The teacher, who was not injured, was able to run out of Baumgartner’s office and out the back office door, he said. Then the police arrived, and Bradley dropped his knife and did not resist arrest, the superintendent said.

Bradley was carrying a duffel bag containing gasoline in a can, lighters and neatly folded clothes, Saldivar said.

“It is a miracle ... that nothing more occurred,” she said.

All classrooms were immediately locked with the lights turned off — the school’s lockdown mode — and no children witnessed the incident, Saldivar said. The charter school, which serves about 200 students from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade, is made up of portable buildings and no classrooms are in the same building as the office, she said.

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