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IRVING, Texas – Ahmed Mohamed likes to fix things and build new inventions.
In middle school, he was a star in his robotics club and was trying to find a similar group during his first few weeks of high school.
Mohamed, a freshman at Irving MacArthur High School, said he brought an electronic alarm clock that he built to school to show his first period engineering teacher.
“I wanted to start clean with the teacher by showing him my inventions and stuff,” he told KXAS.
However, he had no idea he would end up in handcuffs later that day.
The problems started when the clock rang in his backpack during second period.
“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.”
A short time later, police arrived at the school and took Mohamed into custody.
He says he was fingerprinted, interrogated and had a mug shot taken.
During police questioning, he says he was asked repeatedly about his family surname.
“I tried making a phone call to my father. They said, ‘You’re in the middle of an interrogation. You can’t have a phone call,” he said. “I really don’t think it’s fair, because I brought something to school that wasn’t a threat to anyone. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just showed my teachers something and I end up being arrested later that day.”
Irving police say three MacArthur High School teachers complained about Mohamed, saying the device was suspicious. He was taken into custody for a “hoax bomb.”
“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” said James McLellan, with the Irving Police Department. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
Mohamed says he didn’t know what else to say because the device is a clock.
Dallas News pressed McLellan about what else Mohamed could have said.
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 Irving Independent School District Spokesperson Lesley Weaver released the following statement:
“Around 3 p.m. yesterday, a MacArthur High School student was arrested on campus by the Irving Police Department. School officials have been cooperating fully with the police investigation, and while privacy laws prevent us from sharing specific details about student discipline, we can assure everyone that school administrators are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws.
We always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior. If something is out of the ordinary, the information should be reported immediately to a school administrator and/or the police so it can be addressed right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and keep our school community as safe as possible.”
“I don’t want to see anybody go through what I went through,” Mohamed said.
Now, he is fighting to get his clock back and his family wants to the investigation to be closed.
On Wednesday morning, officers dropped the case, saying there was no evidence of intent to create harm.
According to Texas law, a person who commits a hoax bomb offense is one who “knowingly manufacturers, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use” it or intentionally causes alarm or reaction.
Mohamed is gaining support from people across the country as his story spreads.
— Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015
Mohamed hasn’t been back to school since his arrest because he was suspended for three days.
The President is responding on Twitter.
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) September 16, 2015
The head of Facebook also responded.