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By Elisha Fieldstadt
A 15-year-old boy was taken into police custody after allegedly threatening to blow up a mosque and bringing “several pounds” of potassium nitrate to his Phoenix school, officials said Tuesday.
A classmate of the Pinnacle High School student told his parents Monday that the suspect had said he “wanted to ‘blow up a Muslim church,'” police said. The parents of the witness called Phoenix police, who said the boy told them “he did not observe any weapons or devices that would allow the suspect to act upon his statement.”
But the next day, the classmate noticed the suspect had brought “a plastic bag containing several pounds of a white powdery substance” to school, police said.
The boy reported what he saw to school officials, and when officers arrived at the scene, they discovered the suspect had “several pounds of potassium nitrate,” according to police.
Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said potassium nitrate isn’t dangerous on its own but can be mixed with other substances to create a potential explosive.
The teen, who has not been identified, was taken into custody to be interviewed, police said. Pinnacle High School was not locked down because he hadn’t threatened the school.
A statement from Paradise Valley Unified School District, which Pinnacle is a part of, said the school and the district are cooperating with the police investigation.
The statement said students and staff were never in danger, and it was safe for them to attend school Wednesday.
“It’s always advisable that parents check their teen’s phones and/or tablets to see what they are texting, posting on social media, and passing on to others,” the district’s statement said. “Teens should be reminded that making alleged threats, even when they intend it as a joke, can have severe consequences and is considered a felony.”