West High student accused of setting teacher's hair on fire

Witnesses says Gabriela Penalba, 23, turned her back to the class, the student used a lighter to ignite the teacher

Gabriela Penalba (Courtesy: Knox Co. Schools)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A 15-year old West High School in Knoxville has been charged with Aggravated Assault after police say he tried to set his teacher's hair on fire.

Witnesses says Gabriela Penalba, 23, turned her back to the class, the student used a lighter to ignite the teacher's hair and shirt.

Other students in the classroom quickly helped put out the fire and the fire was put out before the teacher received burns to her skin.

Officers say the student then threw the lighter out the window and tried to run from school resource officers but was quickly captured.

He then admitted to the assault.

The student is also charged with Evading Arrest.


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