While the San Ysidro High School Class of 2009 celebrated its scholars Tuesday night, handing out awards and scholarships, one of its honor students returned home after spending five days in jail.
Elphbert Laforteza, 18, was jailed on $860,000 bail Saturday after he allegedly brought a dozen homemade bombs to school.
Several of the plastic bottles, containing some type of acid and another unidentified substance, were set in trash cans a few feet from where students were having lunch Friday at San Ysidro High School. Six of the bottles exploded. No one was hurt but the bombs were big enough to have killed someone, investigators said.
On Tuesday, prosecutors decided to release Laforteza from the South Bay Detention Center. He's still a suspect, prosecutors say, and will likely face charges in the near future. However, the investigation into last Friday's incident is ongoing and more arrests are expected.
Laforteza's father said Tuesday night that his son was terrified in jail, and began sobbing as soon as he was released.
The senior, who had been awarded a scholarship, will receive his diploma but will not "walk" with the rest of his class during graduation ceremonies, according to school officials.
Some of Laforteza's fellow students are writing letters to the court, pleading for leniency.
Peruz Dawoudi has been a classmate of Laforteza since Junior High School says she plans on writing a letter to the judge. "He (Elphbert) is a really smart guy and what he did was just a prank,"said Dawoudi.
Some school administrators believe this was a good student who made a bad choice.
"As his counselor, I am most definitely saddened," said Monica Sigarroa who was Laforteza's counselor for the past four years.
She says it was a complete shock when Laforteza was arrested for what she calls a stupid prank.
"Obviously, it was taken to the appropriate levels it needed to be taken to but he isn't the type of student who would do anything to harm anyone," she said.
Principal Hector Espinoza says a strong message is being sent. But even he questions if it's too much. "I think leniency is certainly something that needs to be looked upon, and not ruin this young man, his future," he said.