Speed Reads

sometimes a clock is just a clock

Texas high school student arrested, suspended after bringing homemade clock to school

Ahmed Mohamed, 14, says his hobby is to "invent stuff," and he stands by his assertion that, contrary to what police and officials at his high school say, the homemade clock he brought to show teachers was not a fake bomb.

The freshman at MacArthur High School was detained by police Monday after the principal and authorities were shown his invention. Mohamed said he enjoys making radios and other gadgets at home, so on Sunday, he spent about 20 minutes putting together the clock, using a circuit board, digital display, and case. He told The Dallas Morning News he showed his engineering teacher at the beginning of the school day, who said it was "really nice," then added, "I would advise you not to show any other teachers." Mohamed kept the clock in his bag, but an English teacher heard the alarm go off during class, and he showed her the device. Mohamed said she told him it "looks like a bomb," then kept it.

Mohamed said he was in sixth period when the principal, accompanied by a police officer, pulled him from class. He was led to a room where four other officers were waiting for him, including one he had never seen before who said: "Yup, that's who I thought it was." Mohamed said he was searched and told by the principal that if he didn't write a statement, he'd be expelled. Mohamed was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center, where he was fingerprinted. After that, he was released to his parents.

Police spokesman James McLellan said authorities "have no information that he claimed it was a bomb. He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation." When pressed by The Dallas Morning News, McLellan added, "It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?" Mohamed maintains that the clock was built to tell time. He has been suspended from school for three days, which his father finds upsetting. "He just wants to invent good things for mankind," explained Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, a Sudanese immigrant. "But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated." Catherine Garcia