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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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