NEWS

Students surprised to hear of alleged arson plot

06/02/2012 06:45 EDT | Updated 08/02/2012 05:12 EDT

A student at St. Joseph's College School says she and her classmates were unaware of a janitor's alleged involvement in a dangerous gas leak, deemed as attempted arson, until they saw the news.

Yasmeen Mounir was one of nearly 800 students forced to evacuate St. Joseph's College School following Thursday's gas leak.

Mounir said she arrived at the school and was told to head to Queen's Park and meet up with other classmates.

"We were thrilled we were getting out of first period but no one really knew what was going on so we didn’t have much of a reason to get super stressed," Mounir said.

"We didn’t even hear anything until we saw it on the news."

The smell of gas caused staff of St. Joseph's College School to pull the fire alarm Thursday morning, and both staff and students evacuated the building, located on Wellesley Street West.

No injuries have been reported.

According to police, the head janitor allegedly entered the school, cut a gas pipe in the building and then went into the school's kitchen to light a stove.

Vincent Perna, 67, is facing six charges, including attempted murder, attempted arson and break and enter with intent. Perna, who has worked at the school more than 15 years, appeared in court Friday morning.

"He was very demure, he didn’t really talk that much," Mounir said. "It’s not like he made conversation with the students, he just sort of did his job."

"I'm not quite sure whether I believe that he did it or not. Just because he doesn't seem like the type of person to do it."

St. Joseph's College School is an all-girl Catholic school that is more than 150 years old and accepts students from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

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