A Texas high school freshman, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested Monday after a homemade clock he took to school to show to his teachers was mistaken for a bomb.
The student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, makes his own radios and repairs his own go-cart. He hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a digital clock he made himself to school on Monday.
Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News that he built the clock in about 20 minutes out of a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display. He tucked the clock inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
When he brought it to school Monday and showed it to his engineering teacher, he said “That’s really nice,” but told Mohamed that he would advise him not to show it to any other teachers.
So Mohamed kept the clock inside his school bag, but when it started beeping in the middle of English class, the teacher asked to see.
When the student showed his teacher the source of the beeping, she said, “It looks like a bomb.” Ahmed responded, “It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”
The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Mohamed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.
They led the 14-year-old into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Mohamed said. “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.” “He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me,’” Mohamed added.
Police cuffed Ahmed and led him away that afternoon and suspended him from school.
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed’s sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB
— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
The incident went viral on social media and the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed was the top non-promoted U.S. trend on Twitter early Wednesday morning.
“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
At a press conference this morning, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said, “There’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm.” He added officers determined it was “a hoax bomb” and a “naive accident.”
As a result, he explained, no charges will be filed against Ahmed, and “the case is considered closed.” He also said “the reaction would have been the same regardless” of the student’s skin color.
“Our reaction would have been the same either way,” he said. “That’s a very suspicious device. We live in an age where you cant take things like that to a school.”