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.

Attention-Seeking Teens Threatening Violence at School

Multiple attention-seeking teens (who ironically will go unnamed on the news as they are minors) have taken to social media over the last couple weeks, threatening violence at their schools.

Threatening violence at school

Photo by: Eric Fischer

While the world is still reeling from the deadly shooting at a high school in Florida, a handful of teens in Utah have chosen to make jokes, gain attention from peers, or make classmates fearful by threatening violence at their own schools throughout the Beehive State. Although none of the threats have been determined to be real, teens that voice, text, post or snap messages threatening violence at school can face criminal charges. The penalties for threatening violence at school can vary depending on the specifics of the threat.

Threat of violence

If a teen makes a threat to another person or group, they could be charged with making a threat of violence. Utah Code 76-5-107 explains that if a teen makes a threat of violence “with intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or death” or is “accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence”, they could face a class B misdemeanor. Teens should know that they don’t have to plainly make a threat; even implying that there is a threat of violence to another is a crime.

Threat of terrorism

If a teen makes a threat of violence and their actions “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 “, they may also face a class B misdemeanor according to Utah Code 76-5-107.3 which deals with terrorist threats. If the teen’s threats involve a real or hoax weapon of mass destruction such as a bomb or “any item or instrumentality that is designed or intended to cause widespread death or serious bodily injury to multiple victims” as detailed in section 76-10-401, their charges could be increased to a second degree felony.

Be known for good

Photo by: Sebastian Oliva

At an age where teens are trying to make their mark on the world and be remembered as an individual, they should also be warned that threatening violence at school is not a healthy way to obtain the limelight. Long after the dust settles on their threat, they may still have blemishes on their juvenile or adult criminal record that can trouble them long after high school is over.

Prank Calling Police or 911 is Emergency Reporting Abuse

Prank calling police or 911 with a fake emergency is not comical and can end in emergency reporting abuse charges for the trickster.

Prank calling 911

Photo by: Brian Hillegas

Prank calling took a dive with the invention of caller ID but is now gaining speed again as pranksters find ways to hide or block their numbers. One type of prank call that is becoming popular among both teens and adults is calling in a fake emergency or severe crime to another person’s address. When police or paramedics arrive at the address, it can be upsetting to everyone involved and even dangerous for the individual on the receiving end of the prank if police perceive them as a threat to others. Pulling a prank like this is considered emergency reporting abuse and is against the law.

Emergency reporting abuse

Utah Code 76-9-202 states “A person is guilty of emergency reporting abuse if the person:

. . . (c) reports an emergency or causes an emergency to be reported to any public, private, or volunteer entity whose purpose is to respond to fire, police, or medical emergencies, when the person knows the reported emergency does not exist; or

(d) makes a false report, or intentionally aids, abets, or causes a third party to make a false report, to an emergency response service, including a law enforcement dispatcher or a 911 emergency response service, if the false report claims that:

(i) an ongoing emergency exists;

(ii) the emergency described . . . currently involves, or involves an imminent threat of, serious bodily injury, serious physical injury, or death; and

(iii) the emergency described . . . is occurring at a specified location.”

Depending on the type and severity of the fake emergency reported, penalties can range from a class B misdemeanor to even a second degree felony “if the report is regarding a weapon of mass destruction”.

Keeps pranks off the phone

There are many pranks that kids pull that can be innocent enough, with both parties feeling amused at the end. If the prank involves use of the phone however, it could result in the kid’s surprised parents answering the door to the police. It is important children know that too many “your refrigerator is running” calls may be considered electronic communication harassment and that emergency numbers should never be on the list of numbers to prank call.

No Charges Filed For Utah Teen Who Made Threats of Violence Online

A Utah teen was released with no charges filed after an investigation into threats of violence he made online.

Report of planned school shooting

A male student at Emery High School in Utah used the social media app Snapchat to make threats of violence towards other classmates at his school. After seeing a Snapchat post that the teen was going to shoot other students, someone alerted police to the threat. The male teen responsible for the frightening post was detained while police investigated the alleged threat.

Taking threats seriously

There is no explanation as to why the teen made the threats toward his peers, however police determined the danger to not be credible. Police interviewed friends of the teen as well as those who may have seen the post on Snapchat. In a case like this, investigators likely searched the teen’s locker, phone, computer and home. Through the investigation however, there was no evidence that the teen actually planned on carrying out the attack. It was likely he said it in frustration or anger.

Threats of violence

According to Utah Code 76-5-107, A person may face class B misdemeanor charges for committing a “threat of violence if:

(a) The person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and acts with intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or death; or

(b) The person makes a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force of violence, to do bodily injury to another.”

Although the teen made a verbal or written threat of violence, he didn’t act towards the threat at all and was released without charges. The teen didn’t escape unscathed however. He is facing serious backlash from his peers as well as the community. It is important to teach children the criminal as well as social consequences that can occur from making threats of violence towards others. Teens who end up facing charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with their parents or guardians.

Youth Hunters in Utah

There are many youth hunters in Utah who join their families for traditional hunting trips. These kids may have grown up surrounded by older family members who have been hunting for years, but they and their parents may not know what is required for them to participate.

Hunting in Utah

Youth Hunters in Utah
Photo by: Bob ‘n’ Renee

Hunting is a big sport in Utah with many kids becoming involved fairly young. Fishing is common for beginners while many kids gradually move on to hunt small game and even larger game, cougar or bear as they get older. Although the State of Utah “encourage[es] Utah’s youth to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and participate in shooting sports” there are some guidelines that must be obeyed as well as education required before they can hunt in Utah.

Age requirements

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, “In 2008, the Utah Legislature removed the minimum age requirement for hunting small game”. With adult supervision, all kids under the age of 15 are allowed to hunt duck, partridge, pheasant, turkey and waterfowl while those 12 or older may participate in big game, cougar and bear hunts.

Education and parental supervision

Not every child can pick up a rifle and head out hunting with their family. The child must be old enough to understand and complete a hunter education course first. One educated and registered, licensed youth hunters under the age of 15 must be supervised by an adult while hunting, no matter how experienced they are. Utah Code also states in 76-10-509 that older teens hunting alone must have permission from their parent or guardian to be in possession of a weapon and that firearm may not be a “handgun, ( . . . ) short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or a fully automatic weapon” as described in section 76-10-509.4.