Student who left explosives had posted ISIS propaganda, police say

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ST. GEORGE — St. George police continued Tuesday to investigate why a student allegedly left a backpack with explosive materials in a high school and has been posting ISIS propaganda.

The student, whose name and age were not released Tuesday, was arrested Monday after a backpack with explosives was found in the commons area of Pine View High School, the area where students eat lunch.

Alert students spotted the backpack was "smoking" and immediately contacted school administrators and the school resource officer, according to police.

"From that initial investigation, it was determined that a homemade explosive device was inside the backpack," according to a prepared statement Tuesday from police. "After examining the device, bomb squad members indicted that if it had detonated, the device had the potential to cause significant injury or death."

The school was evacuated while local and federal officials investigated. A male student who attends a class at Pine View was identified as the suspect.

"A warrant was served on the residence of that juvenile and items were located that were consistent with the materials used to build the device placed at Pine View. Based on our investigation we can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school," police wrote.

"It was also determined that the male had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization."

Police believe the same teen is responsible for graffiti spray-painted on a wall at Hurricane High School that stated, "ISIS is comi--" and for replacing the high school's flag with an ISIS flag in February.

We can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school.

–Police report

The flag and message appeared the day after a shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17.

The student was arrested and booked into a juvenile detention facility for investigation of manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

According to the Washington County School District, the student was only taking one class at the high school because he was part of the Success Academy, a partnership with Dixie State University that allows students to enroll concurrently for high school and college classes. The program is typically for accelerated learning students, according to the district.

The student had attended the high school full-time in the past, according to the district.

St. George police on Tuesday praised the students who immediately reported the backpack that had smoke coming from it, as well as the Washington County School District for previously practicing evacuations, leading to "a quick and seamless evacuation" of Pine View High on Monday.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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