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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Pinellas middle school student pleads guilty to attacking officer

LARGO - The middle school student who brought 11 gasoline bombs to Palm Harbor's Carwise Middle School in April and stabbed a school resource officer pleaded guilty Monday and was committed to a psychiatric facility. Kenny Stoltman, who since the stabbing has turned 14, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated battery and battery on a school board employee and read two letters of apology during Monday's hearing. "Sorry can't describe how sorry I am," Stoltman said to Officer Kenneth Fridlund, while fighting back tears. "You are a hero, even to me." Later, Fridlund and the boy who nearly killed him shook hands.
Fridlund is credited with saving many lives on April 5 by subduing Stoltman before he could set off the gasoline bombs. Stoltman stabbed Fridlund in the abdomen after the officer confronted him in front of the bathroom, where he had hidden a duffle bag filled with the bombs. Stoltman's lawyer, Barry Cohen, said the boy never intended to harm others but was planning to kill himself. "I went for your gun because I wanted to kill myself," Stoltman told Fridlund in court Monday. "I can't forget the incident or my past. I can only hear how to deal with it." Fridlund said he did not come to court seeking punishment for the boy. "I have no ill will toward Kenny at all," Fridlund told Pinellas Circuit Judge Jack Day. Stoltman was committed to a mental health center in Orlando after pleading guilty to weapons charges in May. A doctor who testified Monday said he has been responding well to treatment. After Stoltman pleading guilty to attacking Fridlund Monday, Day committed him to an inpatient psychiatric facility until his doctors conclude he is no longer a danger to society. The court will lose jurisdiction over Stoltman when he turns 19, but the judge said no one expects it will take that long to treat him. Stoltman was dealing with a lot when he brought the gasoline bombs to school, including the death of his father, abandonment by his drug-addicted mother and merciless teasing from other students for wearing his Boy Scout uniform to school, Cohen said. His scoutmaster attended Monday's hearing, along with other troop leaders and six fellow scouts. He said Stoltman rose to the rank of Life Scout and was a model for the other boys.

mdouglas@wfla.com (727) 815-1054
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