ALTADENA, Calif. - A veteran Southern California high school teacher accused of asking three students for a ride, holding a knife on them and ordering them to take him to a fast-food restaurant, was suspended Monday and remained in custody, officials said.
John Edward Maust, 34, a teacher at Arroyo Pacific Academy in Arcadia for the past 10 years, was standing on a sidewalk in Altadena on Saturday night when three 17-year-old boys from the academy drove by and stopped to say hello, Los Angeles County deputies said.
Maust appeared to be intoxicated as he walked toward them, the students told investigators. Maust asked for a ride, and the boys agreed.
Something Maust said in the car caused the driver to pull over and the students to jump out, but the teacher ordered them back, pulled a knife and told them to take him to the restaurant, deputies said. One of the boys was able to call 911 as they drove.
When Maust saw a sheriff's helicopter, he got out of the car and fled, deputies said, adding that he surrendered at a substation the next day.
"We are immensely saddened by the story we have heard. We have been in contact with the parents of one of our students involved and are assured of his safety," Arroyo President Philip Clarke said.
Students attending summer school talked fondly of Maust and said they were surprised.
"Mr. Maust has been a long-term, well-respected member of our faculty. Our hearts and prayers go to him and his family as he deals with this situation in his life," Clarke said.
Arroyo is a private school with about 130 students. Maust teaches social studies and physical education.
Maust was booked at Crescenta Valley Station for investigation of kidnapping, false imprisonment and criminal threats. Jail records don't show an attorney for Maust and other administrators at the school did not return calls about a contact for the teacher.
A message was also left for the detective who wrote the news release, but he was in the field.