14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed has received support from all around the country after he was arrested in Irving, Texas earlier this week for what police are now calling a “hoax bomb.” President Barack Obama invited him to the White House, Twitter offered him an internship, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg even gave him a shout out. Now, The Huffington Post is reporting that authorities were aware Mohamed’s device posed no threat to the school but still took him to a juvenile detention facility anyway.
“The officers pretty quickly determined that they weren’t investigating an explosive device,” Police Chief Larry Boyd told MSNBC. “What their investigation centered around is the law violation of bringing a device into a facility like that that is intended to create a level of alarm. In other words, a hoax bomb — something that is not really a bomb, but is designed and presented in a way that it creates people to be afraid.”
Mohamed carried the home-made device in his backpack and when it beeped during English class, he showed his teacher what was making noise in the middle of her lesson. “She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he explained to Dallas Morning News. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”
Facing public outrage for possible discrimination, Boyd insists that that was not the case. When asked if the teen’s religion had anything to do with his arrest, he said their response “would have been the same” under any other circumstance. The police chief added, "We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school. Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”
After the incident, MacArthur High School invited Mohamed to return as a student but the science enthusiast declined.