Teenage ISIS Supporter Arrested After Utah School Backpack Bomb Fails To Detonate

A Utah Teenager who supports ISIS has been arrested after a backpack bomb failed to detonate at Pine View High School.

17-year-old Jack Whalen and his friends noticed a bag near a vending machine that was "smoking and sizzling." After administrators evacuated the school's 1,100 students, the bomb squad moved in and determined that it contained an explosive device which had the "potential to cause significant injury or death," according to police. 

Student Jack Whalen and friends discovered the bomb

“I could smell a smoke smell and my friends actually saw it before I did,” said Jack Whalen, the teen who found the bag containing a "round, really fat" canister. 

Evacuated students wait outside

The suspect is an ISIS-supporting male classmate enrolled in the Junior ROTC program - who admitted to another incident at a neighboring high school in which he replaced the American flag with the ISIS flag, along with graffiti saying "ISIS IS COMI--"

Invoved in the response were the St. George Police, the Washington County Bomb Squad, Washington County Sheriff's Deputies, a bomb-sniffing police dog named Jax and his handler, and the local FBI.

Upon a search of the suspect's home, Police found bombmaking materials and evidence of his support for the Islamic State.

Based on our investigation we can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school,” police said in a statement. “It was also determined that the male had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization.

The suspect has been preliminarily charged with the manufacture, possession, sale, use or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, with more charges pending. 

“There were several factors that came into play yesterday which led to a positive outcome,” police said in their statement. “We’d like to recognize and thank the students who notified faculty and the [school resource officer] of the suspicious backpack. Their immediate action played a large role in this incident ending with no injuries.

Officer Lona Trombley of the St. George Police Department issued the following statement:

There were several factors that came into play yesterday which led to a positive outcome. First, we’d like to recognize and thank 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.
Second, 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 inappropriate 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. We’d also like to say thank you to the Bomb Squad and to Jax and his handler for responding to the call out.
Third, the Washington County School District, who have implemented drills to practice for incidents such as this, which led to a quick and seamless evacuation of the school.
Finally, we’d like to thank the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, who responded to assist with everything from the investigation itself to barricading roads.