NewsLocal News


Teen accused of bringing bomb to Utah high school, placing ISIS flag at another appears in court

Posted at 11:54 AM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 19:31:03-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- A teenage boy accused of bringing a bomb to Pine View High School and placing an ISIS flag at another school appeared in court for a preliminary examination. It's the first step for prosecutors to seek to have him tried as an adult.

The 17-year-old, whom FOX 13 is not identifying because he is a juvenile, sat with his parents and attorneys on Friday morning as an FBI agent testified about the device that prompted an evacuation at Pine View High in March.

FBI Special Agent Michael Truebenbach testified he concluded that it was an "improvised incendiary device" recovered from the school. The device, that police alleged was placed in a backpack, had a fuse leading into a metal can, with gasoline in plastic bottles to act as a fuel. There were also metal balls that Truebenbach testified that could have been used to cause more damage or kill.

However, Truebenbach testified under cross-examination by the defense that the device did not properly detonate.

The teen is facing first-degree felony charges of attempted murder and possession of a weapon of mass destruction; graffiti, a class A misdemeanor; and abuse of a flag, a class B misdemeanor.

St. George police responded to Pine View High School in March after a student reported to a school resource officer a backpack that was smoking. The school was evacuated and the bomb squad was called in.

Police later arrested the teen and accused him of researching ISIS online and attempting to promote the terrorist organization. Police in Hurricane also accused him of replacing an American flag with an ISIS flag at their high school.

Court documents obtained by FOX 13 show that in an interview with St. George police, he was asked about his motives.

"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," he told police, according to the filing.

The boy's attorney declined to comment outside of court. The hearing will resume at a future date with at least a half-dozen more witnesses.

Deputy Washington County Attorney Angela Adams said outside of court she believed the teen should be ultimately transferred to the adult system.