A 14-year-old student in Irving, Texas, was suspended from school and arrested after teachers reported a homemade alarm clock he brought to school as a potential “hoax bomb.”
Ahmed Mohamed, who said he loves inventing things and tinkering with electronics, thought the device – which he made himself over the weekend – would impress his engineering teacher, according to NBC5.
“I wanted to start clean with the teacher by showing him my inventions and stuff,” Mohamed said.
Instead, his extracurricular project alarmed the school staff so much they reported it to the police, and had him arrested.
The clock, which sported a digital display inside of a metal briefcase, first caused problems when the alarm started to sound while it was tucked away in his backpack. Mohammed said he showed the device to the teacher after other students had left the room.
“She said, ‘Well it looks like a bomb. Don’t show it to anyone else,’” he said. “And she decides to take it from me.”
According to police reports, at least three other teachers saw the device before the principal and officers detained Mohamed for questioning. According to Mohamed’s family, the ninth-grader was handcuffed and taken to Irving police headquarters for interrogation, fingerprints, and a mug shot.
NBC5 reports that Mohamed’s father said the family’s Islamic religion might have been part of the reason for the school’s over-reaction.
“We are in the melting pot,” the father said. “We are in the greatest country. We need this trouble not to hinder us, as Muslims, as Christians, as Jews, or whatever you are.”
Irving Police Officer, James McLellan, argued that the actions were taken simply out of an abundance of caution and confusion over the device.
“Clearly, there were disassembled clock parts in there, but he offered no more explanation than that,” McLellan said. “A lot of these details that the family and he have provided were not shared with us [at the time]. He was very much less than forthcoming.”
Hopefully, the next extracurricular engineering project Mohamed tackles will look a little less like a Hollywood prop.