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Teen charged with planting backpack bomb at St. George school

(Spencer Ricks, St. George News)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah teenager accused of taking a backpack of explosives to school was charged Monday with attempted murder and other crimes.

The 16-year-old Pine View High School student was charged in 5th District Juvenile Court with use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder, first-degree felonies, after police say he assembled an improvised explosive device and attempted to detonate it in the school, prompting an evacuation.

When asked by police after his arrest if he had been trying to hurt anyone, the teen allegedly replied, "Kind of a little bit. If someone got hurt, I probably wouldn't care," according to charging documents.

KSL has opted not to name the boy at this time.

The charging documents detail the teen's movements on March 5 as he arrived at the school carrying two backpacks, keeping them both with him as he sat in the school's media center, walked the hallways and ate lunch alone.

After getting up from a lunch table at 11:42 a.m., surveillance cameras recorded as he moved into the school's main hallway, walked a circle, and then deposited one of the bags near a vending machine. He then "opened the backpack, lit the fuse and walked away from it," court documents state.

Shortly after, several students alerted teachers and a school resource officer about the backpack, seeing "dark gray smoke and a strong odor coming from the backpack for 30 to 60 seconds," according to the charges.

The school resource officer looked inside the backpack, then "removed it from the school" and alerted a bomb squad," the charges state. The school was evacuated and the backpack destroyed.

In an interview, police say the teen described the items he used to make the device and his attempts to ignite it.

The teen told police, "I would have been fine with it," if some of his classmates had been killed, according to the charges.


When asked if anyone or anything in particular had made him angry, charges say the boy replied, "The way life is going; it's not going well. 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 boy went on to say that if he had been successful, he would have "laid low" for a while to see how people reacted and then tried to hang an ISIS flag at a school or on the freeway "to make it look like ISIS is here," the charges state.

"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," the boy said, according to the charges.

The teen was also charged Monday with graffiti, a class A misdemeanor, and a class B misdemeanor for abuse of a flag, accusing the teen of cutting up an American flag at Hurricane High School last month, where he is accused of replacing it on a flag pole with a homemade ISIS flag. He is also accused of spray painting "ISIS is comi--" on a wall at the school.

The teen remained in custody in a juvenile detention facility on Monday, according to a Utah State Courts spokesman. Information about his next court hearing was unavailable.

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