Teenager Attempts to Set off Bomb at Utah High School

Among the hundreds of teens threatening violence towards their schools over the last few weeks with five of those threats happening in Utah, one teen from southern Utah actually attempted to set off a bomb at a high school.

No warning

Photo by: Michael Rael

While many of the threats around the state and nation have been dismissed as teens wanting their spot in the limelight, one teen in southern Utah didn’t take to social media to gain attention from his peers by making a public threat-he carried out an unexpected attack that luckily didn’t work. The juvenile that hasn’t been named due to his age placed a backpack containing a homemade bomb and shrapnel in a busy lunchroom at Pine View High School in St. George. Fortunately for the possibly hundreds of students in the lunchroom at the time, the bomb malfunctioned. Another student noticed smoke coming from the bag and notified a teacher and school resource officer who removed the bomb and evacuated the school.

Criminal charges

Utah Code 76-10-402 states “A person who . . . intentionally or knowingly manufactures, possesses, sells, delivers, displays, uses, attempts to use, solicits the use of, or conspires to use a weapon of mass destruction or a delivery system for a weapon of mass destruction . . . is guilty of a first degree felony.” Due to the seriousness of the charges, the teen could face adult charges for attempting to bomb a school. He is also facing charges for vandalizing another Utah school and putting up an ISIS flag as it was determined during the investigation that he was likewise responsible for that.

Mental health for youth

Photo by: Boudewijn Berends

There is little information about the boy who attempted to bomb Pine View High School but from those that knew him, this act of terrorism came as a complete surprise. Assumptions are being made that the teen suffered from mental illnesses and along with criminal charges, many hope he receives the psychological help he needs.

Cruelty to Animals linked to Child Abuse

There have been several studies over the years linking cruelty to animals to abuse seen or experienced as a child.

4 month old puppy beaten to death

In mid-November, 19 year old Salt Lake City teen Mikah Johnson was charged with cruelty to animals and torture of a companion animal after he beat a 4 month old puppy to death. The Border Collie named “Moose” had internal bleeding, broken teeth, a torn liver, and several other injuries evident of being beaten.

Deeper issues than lack of anger management

Photo by: Noël Zia Lee
Photo by: Noël Zia Lee

How a 19 year old could harm an innocent animal is not entirely unknown. Studies done over the last 40 years are showing connections between children who have witnessed or been victims of abuse and cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, unless they receive the mental health services they need, the deep seated issues that could evolve from abuse don’t stop with cruelty to animals. According to Robert K. Ressler of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, “[those who commit murder as adults] very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.”

Commonality of serial killers

Other studies done over the years are linking children guilty of cruelty to animals as having higher chances of being violent offenders as adults. Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Boston Strangler, and numerous other serial killers had one disturbing childhood hobby in common: torturing and cruelty to animals. While their style of mass murder was very different from one another, they all started out as the disturbed kid who found it entertaining to kill the neighbor’s cat.

Juvenile Mental Health

When children and teenagers begin showing cruelty to animals it is important for their mental health to be evaluated and for them to receive the necessary counseling needed. This small step as a child can dramatically reduce the likelihood of violence as an adult. If they have made the grievous error of seriously harming or killing an animal, criminal charges and mandatory counseling are likely to ensue. To speak with someone about criminal charges related to cruelty to animals, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Lack of Remorse May Encourage Adult Charges

Having a lack of remorse about a crime may encourage a judge to charge a juvenile as an adult.

Sorry, not sorry

Photo by: Maddie Photography
Photo by: Maddie Photography

When a juvenile commits a crime, the prosecution may discuss whether or not the youth should be charged as an adult. This is most often the case for more heinous crimes such as murder. When a juvenile has a lack of remorse for the crime, it is harder for his defense to prove him to be nothing more than an immature person who made a big mistake. Showing a lack of remorse may spell out a criminal nature, or a sociopath in the making.

Not something to brag about

Even if a juvenile shows remorse in the courtroom, what he does prior to that will be taken into account. Youth who brag about their crime to peers or continually blame the victim in the case may be accused of lack of remorse and therefore struggle to prove to the judge that they feel sorry. Remorse should begin the second the crime has been committed, or once the shock of the situation wears off. Any action contrary to that will be noted by authorities and may be used against the defendant.

Counseling suggested

Photo by: Bridget H
Photo by: Bridget H

Frequently, youth who are responsible for causing pain or death of another may be in denial of what they have done or their brain may block out the event to protect their mental wellbeing. For this reason, the accused may appear as though they have a lack of remorse, when in fact they are merely dealing with the crime as they would any other tragic situation, by blocking it out. When this is the case, counseling may help them to come to terms with the charges and their grief so they can feel and show their remorse. For any youth who are facing possible adult charges, it is important to speak with a juvenile defense attorney immediately.