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.

Utah Students Arrested for Making Terrorist Threats against High School

Three Utah students from Duchesne were arrested for making terrorist threats against their high school after other teens reported the plan to school officials.

Planned shooting and explosion

Photo by: Tony Webster

The three Utah teens, ranging in ages between 14 and 15 were arrested for making terrorist threats after they made plans to build and use a firearm and explosives at their school. Other teens found out about the plan and alerted school officials who immediately contacted authorities and put the school on lockdown. Although no firearms or weapons of mass destruction were found in the boy’s possession or in their lockers or home, authorities did confiscate a couple knives as well as written plans on building an explosive device. The boys were arrested for making terrorist threats and taken to a juvenile detention center.

Terrorist threats

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states a person makes [terrorist threats] if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

(a) (i) threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(ii) threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(b) acts with intent to:

(i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government;

(ii) prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; or

(iii)cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public.”

Making terrorist threats can result in penalties ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Threatening to use an explosive on the population of a high school is liable to bring about the higher of those charges.

Motive

At this time there is no known motive as to why the three teens would want to set off explosives at their school. Are they violent individuals who truly wanted to inflict as much pain and damage as possible to their school and peers? Were they acting out towards peers who had bullied or harassed them? Or perhaps this was a troubled attempt for them to gain the attention of their parents, teachers or classmates. As the investigation continues, more will come to light on the mental stability of the teens involved and whether or not this was an actual threat or a petition for help. For more information on crimes committed by teens and how mental health evaluation plays a role in punishment for those crimes, contact a juvenile defense attorney.