1,100 students evacuated were evacuated from a high school Monday in what has become a seemingly endless stream of threats following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier in the month. But the student making the threats in this latest incident was apprehended while attempting to detonate a bomb.
The incident happened at Pine View High School in St. George, Utah. The rural mountain town in the southwestern corner of the state is usually a peaceful place, but the threat was real enough.
“I could smell a smoke smell and my friends actually saw it before I did,” Jack Whalen, the teen who found the bomb told reporters. He and his friends alerted the school’s resource officer who called in a K-9 bomb sniffing dog.
When authorities arrested the suspect, the explosive device in his backpack was smoking and the bomb squad was called in.
Inside the backpack was a homemade bomb. After the school was evacuated, the bomb squad sent in their robot to dispose of the explosive.
“After examining the device, bomb squad members indicated that if it had detonated the device had the potential to cause significant injury or death,” Ofc. Lona Trombly of the St. George Police Department said in a press release.
The student implicated in the attempted bombing has had run ins with authorities before. He was recently disciplined for spray painting “ISIS is comi” on the side of Hurricane High School. Authorities believe he intended to write “ISIS is coming,” but got spooked and ran off before he could finish the phrase. He did manage to replace the school’s American flag with an ISIS flag.
“A warrant served at the male juvenile’s home and items were found consistent with the materials used to build the device,” local media reported. “Police also said the suspect had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization.”
NEW: @sgcitypubsafety is charging the suspects "failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive" inside Pine View High School yesterday with:
76-10-402: Manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction prohibited.
📸 –> Jack Whalen pic.twitter.com/gJQ5Q8OZ74
— D.J. Bolerjack (@DJBolerjack) March 6, 2018
At this point, it is unclear why the device didn’t detonate as the would-be bomber had intended. The student, who has yet to be publicly identified by law enforcement, was charged with manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.