ST. GEORGE, Utah — An ISIS inspired teen at a southern Utah high school has been charged with bringing a homemade bomb to school. The destructive device was discovered in a backpack emitting smoke and prompted an evacuation, police said Tuesday.
The boy was arrested Monday night after Pine View High School in the city of St. George was evacuated for two hours that afternoon while the FBI and a bomb squad investigated. Police did not identify the arrested teen or give his age, reported NBC News.
Moreover, authorities said additional charges are pending against the teen as a suspect in the raising of the Islamic State group’s flag on a pole at another Utah high school last month just after the Florida mass school shooting that was followed by numerous other threats to schools around the U.S.
Fortunately, there were no injuries Monday. The suspicious backpack was discovered in a common area of the school by a student who then reported it to a teacher.
The boy was arrested and booked into a detention center on charges of manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, St. George police said in a statement.
In addition to no injuries, there was no property damage either and the school reopened Tuesday morning for classes.
Although investigative authorities did not describe the homemade bomb in detail, they said it “had the potential to cause significant injury or death.”
“Based on our investigation we can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school. It was also determined that the male had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization,” police said.
So fortunately for students and faculty at the school, the ISIS inspired teen fell short in his plan.
Police in the city of Hurricane about a half-hour drive from St. George said Tuesday the teen who was arrested is also suspected of raising an Islamic State group flag in February at Hurricane High School and spray painting a threatening message. The words, “ISIS is coming” covered the side of a school building. That incident occurred Feb. 15, a day after a mass shooting at a school in Florida. Authorities initially thought the graffiti and flag at the school were pranks. But it appears they were accomplished with purpose.
The backpack at Pine View High School was found by a student who reported to a teacher that smoke was coming out of it shortly after noon Monday, said St. George Police Capt. Giles confirmed.
The teen who was arrested was attending class at the school and items were seized from his home “that were consistent with the material used to build the device placed at Pine View,” St. George police said.
Hurricane Police officer Ken Thompson confirmed “charges are pending on our incident here with the flag.”
“When the search warrant was executed, there was evidence taken from the house that tied him to our case,” he told The Associated Press Tuesday afternoon.
School District spokesman Steve Dunham said the school with about 1,100 students hadn’t experienced any similar incidents in recent years.
“I think it is a shock to all of us that something like this has happened in one of our schools,” he said.
In the case at Hurricane High School, the U.S. flag was found on the ground and slashed with a flag with Arabic letters waving from the flagpole.
The FBI analyzed an image of the flag that had been raised and agents determined the group was not involved, Thompson said earlier.