ST. GEORGE – A 16-year-old boy has been charged with attempted murder in connection with his attempt to detonate a homemade bomb inside Pine View High School earlier this month.
The first-degree felony attempted murder charge is joined by a pre-existing first-degree felony charge for the possession of a weapon of mass destruction, as well as misdemeanor charges for graffiti and abuse of the U.S. flag at Hurricane High in February.
Due to the suspect’s juvenile status, his name is not being released to the public.
The 5th District Juvenile Court released the charging documents related to the case Monday, which added additional detail to the events of March 5 that led to the evacuation of 1,100 students from the school that morning.
The boy was seen on surveillance footage entering the school shortly after 11 a.m. with two backpacks, “one of them containing a homemade Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.),” according to the court document.
Additional footage showed the boy visiting the school’s media center before heading to the cafeteria, where he placed the backpack with the bomb by a vending machine.
“(He) walked directly to the area of the vending machine and can be observed on the video surveillance placing the backpack on the ground and leaning against the front right (east) corner the vending machine,” the document states.
The boy then lit a fuse on the bomb and walked away. According to the court record, there were 75-150 students in the cafeteria at the time. Some of those students soon observed “dark gray smoke and a strong odor coming from the backpack for 30-60 seconds” and notified the school staff and the school resource officer.
The backpack was subsequently removed by the resource officer, and the school was evacuated as a call was put in for the Washington County Bomb Squad.
The bomb squad determined the device was constructed out of a “metal soup can filled with metal BB shots removed from shot gun shells,” the record states.
Additional items in the backpack included “three canning lids with masking tape, BBs, an improvised fuse, black gun powder, white plastic cup, empty box of box-strike matches, three 16.9 oz. water bottles of gasoline, a burnt match and an unburnt match, one additional fuse that had a burnt end that was in the bottom of the backpack, and JROTC clothing.”
Though a resident of Hurricane, authorities have stated the 16-year-old was a part of Pine View High’s Junior ROTC program.
After being taken into custody, the boy admitted to putting the backpack by the vending machine and lighting the fuse.
“He was asked what he lit the fuse with and he replied that he lit it with a match,” the document states. “He said it didn’t work the first time he tried to light it so he tried again by sticking the match in the fuse and that it started to catch so he jumped up and moved away after it started to smoke.”
When asked if his intent was to hurt anyone, the boy replied, “Kind of a little bit. If someone got hurt, I probably wouldn’t care.”
During the same interview, a detective asked what the boy would have thought if the bomb had detonated and injured or killed other students.
“I would have been fine with it,” he said.
The detective also asked if there was anything the boy was specifically angry about or that would make him want to hurt others.
“The way life is going; it’s not going well,” the boy said. “There’s a bunch of bad people; I don’t like the way the world is going. I just wanted to do something to make it different.”
The detective asked again if the boy didn’t care if anyone had been hurt and how he might have felt if they were.
“I don’t really care.” he said, adding he probably wouldn’t have reacted to the others getting hurt or killed. “I don’t really see death as bad; it’s a new kind of way of life.”
As to what the boy might have done afterward 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.
During an interview with St. George Police, the boy had admitted to committing the Feb. 15 incident at Hurricane High involving the school’s American flag being replaced with an ISIS-like flag and the words “ISIS is comi” spray painted on the side of the school’s vocational building.
A subsequent search warrant executed at the boy’s home found materials connected to both the homemade bomb and Hurricane High incident. St. George Police also found evidence of the boy’s research and promoting ISIS.
According the Associated Press, the FBI has determined the Islamic State wasn’t involved in either incident.
The boy remains in the juvenile detention pending his next court appearance.
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