WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah, March 6, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A juvenile was being questioned Monday about recent incidents at two district high schools. One resulted in the evacuation of Pine View High School while officials investigated a suspicious package on campus.
On Tuesday, St. George Police released more information, saying the suspicious package was a backpack that officials determined contained a homemade explosive device.
“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 news release states. “The device was disarmed and a suspect was identified. The suspect was a juvenile male attending a class at Pine View High School.”
A Facebook post Monday afternoon from St. George Police notified residents of the evacuation at Pine View.
According to Facebook comments from parents and students, one or more students who saw the backpack notified a teacher, and the teacher alerted the school resource officer. This was confirmed in the latest news release.
Police said a warrant was served on the home of the juvenile suspect, and “items were located that were consistent with the materials used to build the device placed at Pine View.”
SGPD went on to say that after investigating, “we can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school. It was also determined that the male had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization.”
The Hurricane Police Department had earlier said the same juvenile was suspected of vandalizing Hurricane High School on Feb. 15, by taking down the American flag and replacing it with an ISIS flag.
On Tuesday, SGPD said the juvenile was arrested and charged with manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction prohibited.
They said more charges may be pending, including charges from Hurricane City Police Department for the criminal mischief at Hurricane High.
Police expressed thanks to “the students who notified faculty and the SRO of the suspicious backpack. Their immediate action played a large role in this incident ending with no injuries.”
Officials also recognized “the School Resource Officer program which allowed an officer to immediately be on scene to access and address the situation appropriately. He was then able to call in appropriate teams, such as; the Washington County Bomb Squad and Jax, the bomb detecting K-9 from Dixie Regional Medical Center, to identify and disarm the explosive device.”
The Washington County School District also received praise for implementing drills to practice for such incidents, “which led to a quick and seamless evacuation of the school.”
The news release concluded with thanks to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI for their assistance.