Disturbing new details emerge in case of St. George teen accused of attempted school bombing

Photo: Gephardt Daily

ST. GEORGE, Utah, March 28, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Court papers filed in the case of a 17-year-old St.George boy accused of bringing a bomb into Pine View High School reveal just how determined the suspect was to not only build and detonate the bomb, but also his indifference to killing or injuring his fellow students.

The teen, arrested after the March 5 incident, is now charged with:

  • Attempted murder, a first-degree felony
  • Use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony
  • Graffiti, a class A misdemeanor, based on a Feb. 15 incident at Hurricane High School
  • Abuse of a flag, a class B misdemeanor, from the Feb. 15 incident

According to court documents, the March 5 incident began when the suspect entered Pine View High School with two backpacks, one containing an Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.)

“Video surveillance from the school indicates that he entered the school with the two backpacks at 11:08 am,” says a document released by the Utah Court system.

“He then walked into the Media Center (library) and sat at a work station for approximately 21 minutes. Video surveillance further shows that he left the Media Center at 11:31 am and walked north in the main hallway until reaching the cafeteria.

“He then waited in the food line and after getting his lunch, sat in the middle of the cafeteria alone. He still had both backpacks with him during all of this time. At 11:39 am, he got up from the lunch table, walked into the main hallway near the restrooms, and walked in a circle, and then walked directly to the area of the vending machine and can be observed on video surveillance placing the backpack on the ground leaning against the front right (east) corner of the vending machine.”

The backpack was black and light blue, and bore the embroidered logo of a health care company. It was left against one of three vending machines, the one closest to the hallways of the cafeteria.

“There were approximately 75-150 students in the commons/cafeteria area at this time,” the statement says. “At 11:42 am, (the suspect) opened the backpack, lit the fuse, and walked away from it.”

Soon after, several students who noticed “dark gray smoke and a strong odor coming from the backpack for 30-60 seconds,” reported the backpack to the school resource officer, who approached the backpack, examined its contents, then “removed it from the school and contacted the Washington County Bomb Squad and the school was completely evacuated,” the court documents say.

The suspect, seen on surveillance video wearing a green, military-style hat and a red/burgundy colored jacket with a Pine View High School Panther JROTC patch, was found by law enforcement officers and wearing the same clothing.

The Washington County Bomb Squad examined the I.E.D and determined the device was made from a metal soup can filled with 10 items, including:

  • BB shots removed from shotgun shells
  • Black gun powder
  • Three 16.9 oz. water bottles of gasoline
  • A burnt match and an unburnt match
  • JROTC clothing

After being read his Miranda Rights and saying he understood them the suspect agreed to speak with detectives from the St. George Police Department.

“During this interview, he admitted to placing the backpack against the vending machine and lighting the fuse with a match. He described to the detectives how he made the device.”

Asked if he had intended to hurt anyone, the suspect relied, “Kind of a little bit. If someone got hurt, I probably wouldn’t care.”

Later in the interview, one of the two detectives asked, “Let’s say that thing goes off and classmates would have gotten killed or seriously injured, what do you think about that?” the suspect responded, “I would have been fine with it.”

A little later in the interview, he was asked whether there is something specific that has caused him to be angry or want to hurt other people. He responded, “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.”

Asked what students might have done to hurt him, the suspect replied, “Probably nothing; I don’t really see death as bad; it’s a new kind of way of life.”

Asked in the same March 5 interview about the Feb. 15 incident, in which Hurricane High School was vandalized and an improvised ISIS flag was used to replace the schools United States flag, the suspect admitted making the ISIS flag from materials found in his grandparents’ shop.

During the execution of the search warrant at the suspect’s home, supplies like those used to make the flag and fill the backpack were located, the court papers say.

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