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.

Juvenile Allegedly Plots Mass Destruction at Utah School

Prosecutors are seeking to certify 16-year-old Joshua Hoggan as an adult after receiving information that the juvenile was going to use a weapon of mass destruction at Roy High School in Utah. Hoggan has been charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction, which is a first-degree felony, in 2nd District Juvenile Court, but prosecutors have filed the motion to have Hoggan’s case transferred to adult district court.

Photo: Paul Fisher

Should Hoggan be Tried as an Adult?

Prosecutors reportedly believe that Hoggan is adult enough to comprehend the gravity of his situation and the choices he made to get to this point. Also, his co-conspirator in the alleged bomb plot is already an 18-year-old adult who has been charged with the same crime in adult court.

Safety Issues at Roy High School Noted by Hoggan

Interestingly, Hoggan wrote an article for the Roy High School newspaper in 2010 that detailed problems around the school that could put everyone’s safety at issue if the school was attacked. Hoggan also interviewed the Columbine High School principal this past December, purportedly for a follow-up article for Roy High’s newspaper.

What Constitutes Weapon of Mass Destruction Involvement

In Utah, a person can be charged with a first-degree felony for any of the following situations relating to a weapon of mass destruction:

• Manufacturing
• Possession
• Displays
• Delivers
• Sells
• Uses
• Attempts to use
• Solicits the use of
• Conspires to use

We would not attempt to sit in judgment of Joshua Hoggan; that is for a judge or jury. We strongly believe that any person accused of a crime is innocent unless they are found guilty. Hopefully Hoggan will be treated fairly and respectfully, as is appropriate for any individual facing criminal charges.

Juvenile Courts Are About Rehabilitation

There are many reasons why juvenile court is separate from adult court, and if you have a child whom prosecutors are attempting to certify as an adult, it is vital that you get the advice of an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney. Just because a prosecutor believes a 16-year-old is mature enough to be tried as an adult doesn’t mean that is what should happen.

Make sure your child, regardless of his or her circumstances, is represented by a juvenile defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of helping juveniles through any legal procedures.