A Durham woman was arrested after throwing lighter fluid on her son’s Eno Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher and threatening to burn the building down, according to an arrest warrant.
Durham police said that teacher Megan Jones had arranged a parent-teacher conference with Shequella Sheala Leonard, who became irate at accusations of her son’s behavior.
About five minutes into the meeting, the school principal told Leonard that she needed to leave the building, and the group, which included Leonard’s son, exited into a hallway, police said.
Once in the hallway, Jones told police that Leonard pulled a bottle from her purse and began spraying a liquid on Jones’ arms, face, and chest. Jones ran away from Leonard when the liquid began burning her eyes, police said.
According to a warrant, Jones was injured when the substance, identified as lighter fluid, splashed into her eyes.
Leonard then threatened to light Jones on fire and burn the school down, before fleeing in her SUV, the warrant said.
School officials could not comment on the incident because it remains under investigation.
Leonard, 30, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, malicious use of explosives causing injury and misdemeanor communicating threats.
Leonard was being held at the Durham County Detention Center under $50,000 bond. Her bond was increased to $500,000 in court Wednesday due to the severity of the charges.
School officials released the following statements on Wednesday:
“We are very grateful that the teacher affected by Monday’s incident is all right. She returned to work Tuesday and her school family has pulled together to support her. We ask that everyone respect her privacy. This incident is a strange exception to the mutual respect DPS’s families and educators maintain every day. Teachers and families must be partners to help our children succeed in school and life, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that they feel safe and valued in working with each other.” – Bert L’Homme, Durham Public Schools superintendent
“This was an unusual, scary situation, but our teacher is all right and we have taken steps to ensure our students’ and staff’s safety following this incident. I want to thank all of Eno Valley’s parents and families for their concern.” – Rodney Berry, Eno Valley Elementary School principal