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Texas Teen Arrested for Bringing Homemade Clock to School

A freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas was arrested and interrogated when school officials and local police mistook his homemade digital clock for a bomb.

Ahmed Mohamed, whom the Dallas Morning News describes as a fan of the “robotics club in middle school,” wanted to impress his engineering teacher on his first day of high school. So he quickly put together a small digital clock — “a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front” — and brought it to class. Unfortunately, Mohamed didn’t get quite the reaction he was hoping for.

“That’s really nice,” the engineering teacher said. “I would advise you not to show any other teachers.”

Mohamed took his teacher’s advice, but when the clock beeped during an English class later in the day, the homemade invention inadvertently made its big debut.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Mohamed recalled his English teacher telling him after class.

She kept the device and reported it to the school’s administration. Not long after, the principal and a police officer removed Mohamed from another class and took him to another room, where four other officers were waiting. One of the policemen waiting for the student supposedly said, upon seeing him for the first time: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

They repeatedly searched through his belongings and questioned him about the device. Though Mohamed maintained throughout the interrogation that it was a clock and nothing more, the officers persisted in getting him to admit he “tried to make a bomb.” The principal even threatened to expel him if he at least didn’t provide a written statement.

According to police spokesperson James McLellan, Mohamed “kept maintaining it was a clock” but never offered a “broader explanation” for the device.

“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car,” he said. “The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”

The investigation is ongoing, and Mohamed was suspended for three days by the principal. His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, claims that his son was mistreated “because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11.” In addition, the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is pursuing its own investigation into the matter.

Check out the clip below, via Dallas Morning News:

[h/t The New York Times, Dallas Morning News]
[Image via screengrab]

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