Bomb scare suspect faces terrorism charge out of Hurricane; county may add more

A vandal placed “ISIS IS COMI” on a wall at Hurricane High School, 345 W. Tiger Blvd., Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 15, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Hurricane City Police Department

ST. GEORGE – The juvenile arrested for attempting to detonate a homemade bomb at Pine View High School Monday is facing additional charges related to an ISIS flag incident at Hurricane High School last month.

The Washington County Attorney’s Office confirmed Wednesday that the Hurricane City Police added charges on top of the first-degree felony charge from St. George Police of having a weapon of mass destruction.

The Hurricane charges include two felonies for a threat of terrorism and graffiti and a misdemeanor charge for abusing the U.S. flag.

Hurricane Utah Police Department
Hurricane City Police badge | Graphic courtesy of the Hurricane City Police Department, St. George News

Those charges stem from a Feb. 15 incident in which the American flag at Hurricane High School was taken down during the night and replaced with an ISIS-style flag. The phrase “ISIS is comi” was spray-painted on the side of the school.

Read more: Police don’t believe ISIS flag at high school was placed by anyone tied to Islamic State

Police investigators have been following up on leads into that incident, Hurricane Police officer Ken Thompson said Wednesday. However, the juvenile involved in the Pine View High incident wasn’t on the department’s radar until St. George Police contacted them.

During a press conference in Hurricane Tuesday, Thompson said the boy, who had been questioned by St. George Police, admitted to putting up the ISIS flag and leaving the spray-painted message.

“Our investigators went to work and they assisted in getting a search warrant at his residence here in Hurricane,” Thompson said. “The results of the search warrant were items related to the flag incident and were seized from the home.”

Police officials have said evidence found during the search points to the suspect researching and promoting ISIS.

The suspect is a former Hurricane High student and was not attending the school at the time of the flag and graffiti incident, Thompson said, adding he had no idea what the suspect’s motive may have been.

Read more: Suspect in Pine View bomb scare faces felony charge related to ‘weapon of mass destruction’

Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said his office is looking at the possibility of adding more charges related to these incidents and will make a determination later this month.

As for the suspect, he is beginning to move through the juvenile court system and made an appearance in court Wednesday, Belnap said.

The regional bomb squad, which operates out of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, loads two robots into its trailer after being used during an investigation into a bomb scare at Pine View High School, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The federal government is also assisting with the case,” Belnap said, yet added it may likely stay at the state level due to the federal court system not being geared toward dealing with juvenile offenders.

While the investigation into the overall situation surrounding the suspect continues, Thompson said his department is “very happy” the case has been resolved to this point.

Monday’s incident involved evacuating Pine View High’s 1,100 students out of the school and into the neighboring football field while authorities dealt with the homemade bomb left in a backpack.

Prior to the evacuation, students noticed smoke coming from the backpack, which had been left in the cafeteria, and alerted the school’s resource officer and teachers.

The regional bomb squad was sent in to investigate and a bomb-sniffing dog was brought in from Dixie Regional Medical Center to go through the school and parking lot. The FBI was also contacted.

There were no injuries or damage. The suspect was arrested later that evening.

“This was the perfect example of someone seeing something strange and reporting it to police,” Thompson said. “If you see something, say something.”


Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments March 7, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    WMD you say? well, that brings back memories. Still want to know what this “bomb” was.

    • jaltair March 8, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      I’d like to know exactly what was found in that backpack. The paper said matchbox with matches was the creation of the smoking from the backpack, but then it also stated there was something that could potentially do bodily harm per the paper (can’t remember exact terms from the paper). What was it? Possibly a gun?

      • comments March 8, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        maybe they like to be all cryptic and leave us hanging just to create suspense…..

      • Ladyk March 9, 2018 at 2:26 am

        So far all the police have said about the contents of the pack pack were: matches, a large cylinder type can and some batteries. Which is why they said “IF it had blown up, it had the potential to hurt mame or kill”.

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