A Southern California high school teacher is facing kidnapping charges after pulling a knife on a trio of students and demanding they drive him to a fast-food restaurant while he was apparently intoxicated, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The students were driving at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday when they stopped to greet one of their teachers, 34-year-old John Edward Maust, whom they saw standing near Ganesha Avenue and East Mariposa Street in Altadena, sheriff's officials said in a news release.
Maust asked for a ride, and the 17-year-olds agreed. But during the trip, the driver became worried by their conversation with the teacher and pulled the car over, officials said.
"They immediately noticed that he was intoxicated," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Tony Moore. "They didn't feel safe. They got out of the car and he ordered them back into the car."
The teacher at Arroyo Pacific Academy in Arcadia demanded the students drive to a Jack in the Box restaurant, according to the sheriff's department. Maust pulled out a knife on the teens after they reluctantly re-entered the car, officials said.
One of the teens was able to call 911 during the drive. When Maust saw a sheriff’s department helicopter flying overhead, he bailed from the car and fled on foot, officials said.
On Sunday, Maust surrendered at the Altadena Sheriff’s Station, where he was arrested without incident, officials said. He faces charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and criminal threats. He was being held on $100,000 bail. It was not immediately clear whether he had obtained an attorney.
The teacher was placed on indefinite administrative leave, according to school officials.
"We are immensely saddened," said Philip Clarke, president of Arroyo Pacific Academy. "We are very concerned about the well being of a long-term, well-respected faculty member who is involved. Our hearts and our prayers go out to him at this moment of this situation in his life.
"Our primary concern is for the well being and welfare of our students."