A convicted felon was arrested yesterday while walking through the Sonora High School campus carrying a large knife.

A school custodian attempting to help arrest the combative man was stabbed by a hypodermic needle hidden in the suspect's pant leg.

The skirmish in the school's quad area occurred at the end of the school day, just before 3 p.m., and students were kept in their classes about 10 minutes longer, until police took the man away.

The custodian, also a campus supervisor who asked for anonymity, underwent tests for HIV, hepatitis and tetanus late yesterday and will know Friday the results, said Sonora High Principal Terry Clark.

Darrell Reed Hamilton, 32, of Sonora was booked at the Tuolumne County Jail after the scuffle. He faces charges of being a felon possessing a dangerous weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, battery on a peace officer, misdemeanor battery, resisting arrest and possessing a hypodermic needle.

Hamilton remained in jail without bail this morning because of a state prison parole hold. He recently served a three-year sentence for drug possession and was among people Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department investigators wanted to interview in connection with a March 20 armed robbery at a Callahan Lane house, said sheriff's Sgt. Chris Harrison.

Sonora Police Officer Mike Christ, also Sonora High's FROM PAGE ONE

school resource officer, said this morning he was in his school office yesterday when he was told of a strange man walking through campus carrying a gasoline can while smoking a cigarette.

Christ approached the man and asked what he was doing, and the man became agitated, the officer said.

"I thought he needed to be escorted off the campus, but when I tried to put the cuffs on him, the fight was on," Christ said.

Hamilton and Christ were thrashing around the main quad area when Hamilton tried to jump off a balcony to get away, Christ said. The officer had Hamilton in a headlock and got one handcuff on Hamilton's wrist, when the custodian got on top of a trash can on the lower level to push Hamilton back up.

"The custodian pushed up on Hamilton's legs and that's when the needle the bad guy had hidden in his pants punctured his hand," Christ said.

After Hamilton was handcuffed and subdued, Christ searched him and reported finding a knife in a sheath, a handcuff key, two shotgun shells and the hypodermic needle.

"He has a history of escaping, that's probably why he had the handcuff key," Christ said.

The Callahan Lane robbery occurred March 20, when David Barton, 56, was held up at gunpoint in his home and robbed of $2,700 cash.

Clark congratulated students and teachers for cooperating by staying inside their classrooms when school officials delayed the final bell until the campus was safe.

"It was so great to be able to walk out on campus and not see a soul around," Clark said. "There was just a real sense of cooperation and safety here yesterday."

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