Judge to consider adult court for teen accused of attempted bombing at high school

The regional bomb squad operated 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 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Hurricane teen accused of attempting to detonate a homemade bomb at Pine View High School in March may be tried as an adult, a prosecutor said after an abbreviated preliminary hearing Friday in 5th District Juvenile Court.

The hearing will continue at a date to be determined, Deputy Washington County Attorney Angela Adams said.

Depending on the outcome of the preliminary hearing, the judge overseeing the case may rule to move the case from the juvenile court into the adult court system, she added.

The teen’s attorney, Stephen Harris, could not be reached for comment.

Friday’s hearing primarily involved the testimony of FBI Special Agent Michael Truebenbach, an explosives expert brought in by the prosecution, Adams said.

Truebenbach’s testimony focused on the device used by the 17-year-old suspect, concluding it was an improvised explosive device that if detonated, could have caused damage and injury.

St. George News is not naming the suspect because he is a minor.

Pine View High School students are evacuated to the football field as police investigate a bomb scare inside the school and swept the parking lot as a precaution, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Read more: Charges filed in Pine View bomb scare; more possible in relation to ISIS flag incident

The explosive is described in court records as “a metal soup can filled with metal BB shots removed from shot gun shells.” The boy lit the fuse, but the device malfunctioned and did not detonate.

The teen is facing first-degree felony charges for attempted murder and possession of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with the March 5 bomb scare that prompted the evacuation of 1,100 students.

He also faces misdemeanor offenses stemming from a February incident in which he replaced the American flag at Hurricane High School with an ISIS flag and spray-painted an ISIS-related message on school property.

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

When interviewed by St. George Police following the Pine View High incident, the boy told investigators he had been researching the Islamic State terrorist group online.

St. George Police officers and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies block access to Pine View High School as a bomb scare was investigated at the school, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

According to court records, when asked by police how he would have felt if the bomb had exploded and killed or injured others, he replied, “I would have been fine with it.”

Read more: ‘If someone got hurt, I probably wouldn’t care’; Teen charged with attempted murder in Pine View High bomb scare

As to what the boy might have done if the bomb had gone off and he wasn’t found, he said:

“If I didn’t get caught from this, if people got hurt and I could get away from it? I would have laid low for a little while, kind of see what people’s reactions were, whether there were comments about it, etc. Then later on try to hang an ISIS flag somewhere like on a school or maybe on the freeway, make it look like ISIS is here. Then maybe after that try to contact ISIS, but I don’t really know how to do that. I need to do more research on that.”

Adams said her office feels confident about the case it has built against him.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

 

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