Irving ISD student detained for 'suspicious device'

An Irving high school student says administrators and police overreacted to a science experiment he was carrying in a pencil box.

IRVING – A MacArthur High School freshman said school officials overreacted and called police after mistakenly thinking a digital clock he rebuilt looked like a fake bomb.

"They arrested me and told me I committed a crime of a hoax bomb - a fake bomb," he told News 8.

Officers said the clock and wires inside his Vaultz pencil case looked like a hoax bomb to them.

But Ahmed — an engineering student who has won awards for his inventions — said he created the clock over the weekend, and brought it to school to show an engineering teacher on Monday.

"It was the first time I brought an invention to school to show a teacher," he told News 8.

According to Irving police, Ahmed's case contained a digital clock that the student had taken apart and rearranged. Police said the student had the briefcase in his English class, where he plugged it into an electrical outlet and it started to make noise.

Ahmed told WFAA that his English teacher confiscated his case. A few hours later, the student said the principal and school resource officer pulled him out of class and questioned the high school freshman.

Officers said Ahmed was being "passive aggressive" in his answers to their questions, and didn't have a "reasonable answer" as to what he was doing with the case. Investigators said the student told them that it was just a clock that he was messing around with.

"We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only say it was a clock. He didn't offer any explanation as to what it was for, why he created this device, why he brought it to school," said James McLellan, Irving Police.

Police confiscated the case along with Ahmed's tablet computer.

Officers booked Mohamed on having a fake bomb, a Class A misdemeanor. McLellan said the Dallas County District Attorneys office will decide whether there's enough evidence to charge him. He was released to his parents Monday afternoon.

But the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Ahmed was targeted because of his religious and racial identity. CAIR said it is also concerned some of the student's rights may have been violated.

"I think this wouldn't even be a question if his name wasn't Ahmed Mohamed," said Alia Salem, Council on American-Islamic Relations. "He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers."

In addition to calling police, Ahmed said the principal suspended him for three days.

The principal referred questions to the district, which released this statement to WFAA:

"We always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior."

Ahmed, his father, and attorneys with CAIR said they plan to meet with the principal and the police chief on Wednesday afternoon.


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