School toilet-stall fire lands Gwinnett high school students in jail

Two Norcross high school students were in jail Wednesday on charges of arson and terroristic acts for what appears to be a badly misguided prank.

One Carlos Medrano-Lendof, 18, has been in the Gwinnett County jail for six days since being arrested at his home on Oct. 2.

He and Ali Eduardo Pazos-Gonzalez, 17, who turned himself in Sunday, were charged with the serious felonies after the Gwinnett Fire Department responded to fire calls at Meadowcreek High School on Sept. 30.

The two had set separate toilet-paper dispensers on fire inside bathroom stalls, said Capt. Tommy Rutledge of the fire department. Both fires were extinguished before the trucks arrived, he said. The plastic dispensers were damaged.

“We are talking two small fires with very minimal damage but still those two fires had potential danger in an occupied building,” Rutledge said. “We take these actions very seriously because it places others in danger.”

Both are now missing class as they are being held on $16,900 bonds. First degree arson carries a sentence of one to 20 years in prison while terroristic acts carry five to 20 years in prison.

Surveillance cameras led fire investigators and Gwinnett school police to the two alleged felons. Both admitted their involvement when questioned by school authorities and arrest warrants were later taken out, Rutledge said.

Things worked out better for the other students at the school. Since the fires were set around 2 p.m. near the end of the school day, their classmates got to leave early, said Sloan Roach, spokeswoman with Gwinnett schools.

“We just went ahead and released the students,” she said.