ST. GEORGE, Utah — (KUTV) - St. George Utah Police are crediting "extremely perceptive" students and fast-acting law enforcement for stopping what could have been a deadly attack at Pine View High School.
"After examining the device, bomb squad members indicated that if it had detonated the device had the potential to cause significant injury or death," Ofc. Lona Trombly of the St. George Police Department said in a press release.
Students at the St. George school noticed a bag near a vending machine that was "smoking and sizzling."
NEW: @sgcitypubsafety is charging the suspects "failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive" inside Pine View High School yesterday with:— D.J. Bolerjack (@DJBolerjack) March 6, 2018
76-10-402: Manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction prohibited.
📸 --> Jack Whalen pic.twitter.com/gJQ5Q8OZ74
“I could smell a smoke smell and my friends actually saw it before I did,” Jack Whalen, the teen who found the bag said and continued to explain that he looked inside the smoking bag.
They immediately notified faculty who contacted the school's resource officer who called in the threat to law enforcement.
St. George Police, the Washington County Bomb Squad, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies, Jax, the bomb-sniffing K-9 for DRMC and his handler, Washington County School District and members of the FBI all responded to the school.
The Washington County Bomb Squad, with the help of Jax the K9, were able to identify and disarm the bomb.
The suspect, a juvenile male who was attending a class at Pine View High School, was identified.
“That person was authorized to be on campus for coursework,” Captain Mike Giles with St. George Police said.
2News also learned the suspect was enrolled in the Junior ROTC program.
NEW: Student who found smoking bag with device in it also looked inside that bag & found "A box of matches, there was a canister in it..."— D.J. Bolerjack (@DJBolerjack) March 6, 2018
"That [canister]was round, really fat, and it had a little lid on it."
More details about this students find at 6. pic.twitter.com/GcmjCrtlas
Police served a warrant at the suspect's home and say they found "items were located that were consistent with the materials used to build the device placed at Pine View," St. George police said in a press release.
Police say their investigation confirmed it was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school, but police also made another startling discovery: the suspect was researching and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the terrorist organization.
The suspect has been arrested and charged with "manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction prohibited," according to police.
More charges are pending from the Hurricane Police Department for what police are calling "criminal mischief" involving the ISIS flag at Hurricane High School.
Law enforcement is happy with the outcome that resulted in an arrest and no injuries.