Public schools

This Senior Prank Was Dumb, But Should the Students Face Felony Bomb Scare Charges?

Alarm clocks, not explosives

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Alarm clock
Dreamstime

Two students at South Iredell High School in Statesville, North Carolina, came up with the following senior prank: they placed alarm clocks in unused lockers and set them to go off at various points throughout the day. The unused lockers had been kept shut by zip ties; they cut the zip ties and used their own locks instead.

This frightened school officials, who worried that the ticking noises coming from inside lockers they couldn't open were indicative of explosive devices. According to Statesville.com:

Because the ties on the locker had been disturbed and replaced with a lock and the ticking sounds, the situation was taken seriously. He said the subsequent investigation revealed the plans to pull the prank were spread via social media or email in the past few days, but no one alerted officials.

When it was noticed that the zip tie was removed from the locker, Baker called for assistance and the faculty and staff helped evacuate the students to the football stadium.

Selves said the evacuation involved approximately 1,500 students and another 200 or so faculty and staff members.

While the students and faculty waited in the football stadium, law enforcement officers from Troutman, the Iredell County Sheriff's Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol swarmed the area. The Troutman Fire Department and Iredell EMS also responded to the school.

Selves said a lot of resources were tied up for about two hours until a bomb-sniffing dog made a sweep through the school and word of the planned prank began to make its way to investigators.

This all seems a tad overboard, but perhaps that's the correct response. In any case, the two perpetrators—Shannon Marie Farrell and Lekia Hall—now face felony charges of causing a "hoax by use of a false bomb in a public building." Farrell and Hall's actions were certainly stupid—they tied up a lot of police resources for hours—and clearly some kind of punishment would be appropriate, like community service. I'm skeptical that felony charges are warranted, since the kids clearly did not have anything nefarious in mind with their prank.

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  1. “The punishment must fit our minds.”

    /officials

  2. Perhaps the most important thing these kids learned their senior year. Mens rea is dead, and almost everything’s a felony.

    1. three
      felonies
      a
      day

  3. This frightened school officials, who worried that the ticking noises coming from inside lockers they couldn’t open were indicative of explosive devices.

    Modern bombs don’t tick.

    1. I was going to point out that actual bombs don’t use alarm clocks as detonation devices – that is a Hollywood trope so the audience can see the time to detonation ticking off and build suspense. Idiots.

      1. I was trying to post this in yesterday’s thread about this, but I was posting from my phone and hadn’t read the original article so I don’t think I went through with my comment. I too assumed they were using the mechanical alarm clock with the little bells on top. So unless you consider Looney Tunes to be your base reference, no, those kinds of alarm clocks aren’t used.

        But of course if you really wanted to set off a bomb at a given time, then a small battery powered electronic alarm clock would be exactly how you’d do it.

        1. Or a cell phone.

          1. Cell phone if you want to detoniate on demand, yes.

            1. Detoniate? Detoniate?

              1. That’s when you don’t like your ringtone, right?

    2. Of course not.

      They have those burning fuze things stick out the top.

      http://www.zoonar.com/photo/ha…..46637.html

    3. That was my thought too. If you hear ticking and immediately think “bomb”, you watch too may cartoons.

      1. I almost expect that if they’d brought two coconut halves and started riding around the school on horseback, they’d be on the hook for the administration calling the police, animal control, and a veterinarian.

        Good thing they didn’t have any bananas on their persons.

        1. Epic take.

          + 1 pointed stick. Would read again.

  4. I’m trying to figure out what crime these kids committed. I suppose it’s some form of petty larceny (depriving the school of the use of lockers).

    It’s not the kids’ fault that the school is staffed by by hysterical pants-shitting scared-of-our-shadows types who lack the initiative to find their way out of a wet paper bag without instructions.

    Personally, I think principal should be horsewhipped for calling the police at all.

    1. Agreed.

      Students: Trespass to chattels or similar civil non-crime.

      Each and every administrator involved in the ‘investigation’: causing a hoax, creation of a false bomb in a public building, conspiracy, etc., etc….

    2. I will say this for the school administration, the specter of liability for anything that happens to the students at school gives them every incentive to overreact to such things. So you can also blame the parents and lawyers for creating this climate of fear.

      1. ^^THIS

    3. The first move should have been an announcement over the PA (or however they do announcements): “hey, we’re worried about these ticking lockers, We’re going to have to call the police and there could be a lot of trouble unless somebody clues us in in the next five minutes what’s going on here. There’s going to be some punishment but it will be minimal if you voluntarily come forward.”

      I’ve always found that a lot of trouble can be averted by asking a few simple questions up front.

      1. Statists are control freaks who think the vast mass of unwashed peasants are simply too stupid, ignorant, and naive to ever run their own lives.

        Your announcement idea only sounds reasonable if you trust the announcement audience to take some responsibility. These control freaks think just the opposite, therefore their conclusion is that the announcement would only provide an opportunity to be held up to ridicule, and only encourage further pranking.

        I bet they didn’t really think of terrorist bombs. I bet they were 99.999% certain it was an end of the year senior prank, and they wanted to make an example of them instead of actually resolve the issue without fuss.

      2. As a newly-minted attorney, I can assure you their,counsel would recommend against it. Any injury sustained during the ensuing panic would most certainly result in a lawsuit since an orderly evacuation would avoid it.

        1. I’m sorry, but this may be the single most insufferable post I have ever read on reason.

          1. Somebody has to graduate at the bottom of the class.

            1. Somewhere out there is the world’s worst lawyer. And somebody has an appointment with him tomorrow.

              Paraphrased from George Carlin

          2. Hmmm. I wonder what other handle Bo was posting as.

            By the way sweetie, you forgot your period.

        2. As a newly-minted attorney,

          Doubtful.

          Assuming you were telling the truth about being in law school and assuming you just graduated, the next bar exam is in July, and you won’t get the results until probably September-October.

          If you graduated mid-year, which is highly, highly unusual for law students, then you might have just gotten the results of the February exam. But, that doesn’t seem consistent with what you’ve posted (although I can’t be arsed to come up with a specific post).

          1. We can only hope that Bo, Esq. will find employment that takes him away from these boards.

          2. Fine. I guess since I’ve beenmworkingmin a law office and just graduated I consider myself an attorney. I’m not,doing,litigation obviously but I am doing the legwork.

            And I have no doubt that I’ll easily pass the bar in six weeks. But make no mistake, I’m an attorney in every practical sense of the word.

            1. I consider myself an attorney.

              Well, you’re not. If you tell people you are IRL, you’re committing fraud, violating the laws on legal practice, and could find yourself barred from getting a license.

              And I say this because I ran across a law grad who hadn’t passed the bar but was holding himself out as an attorney. He wound up leaving the state, knowing that the bar’s background check would lead them to me, I would tell them the truth, and he’d most likely be denied a license.

              1. I’ve never passed myself off as a practicing attorney and will refrain from doing so until I get my test results in the fall.

                I hope this helps you sleep better at night.

                1. Reading your posts helps me sleep at night, you insufferable bore.

                2. I’ve never passed myself off as a practicing attorney

                  Posted less than half an hour after this:

                  As a newly-minted attorney

                  and six minutes after this:

                  I’m an attorney in every practical sense of the word.

                  Don’t ever change, Bo.

                  1. I thought we didn’t like legally enforced professional licensing around here.

                    1. We also don’t like people saying, in any situation, that they are something that they are, in fact, not.

                      Bo reminds me a lot of the wannabe who didn’t actually have a license. That was just the tip of a very insecure, very untrustworthy, iceberg.

                    2. I would tell them the truth, and he’d most likely be denied a license.

                      I hope that this is not just because you’re a dick.

                    3. We also don’t like people saying, in any situation, that they are something that they are, in fact, not.

                      Bo reminds me a lot of the wannabe who didn’t actually have a license. That was just the tip of a very insecure, very untrustworthy, iceberg.

                      I’m totally adding this thread to a bookmark to show Bo next time he wants to rest his arguments on laurels and credibility. In one tiny thread he manages to make a blowhard lie about himself that was shrewdly invalidated by Dean, then claims he never wrote what he just wrote, then goes on say he’s still an attorney because he works in a law office. He probably works at the Starbucks next to a law office and has power of attorney (“attorney-in-fact”) over his unfortunate grandmother, which makes him feel like an attorney.

            2. Fine. I guess since I’ve beenmworkingmin a law office and just graduated I consider myself an attorney. I’m not,doing,litigation obviously but I am doing the legwork.

              And I have no doubt that I’ll easily pass the bar in six weeks. But make no mistake, I’m an attorney in every practical sense of the word.

              So an outright explicit admission of being dishonest and a blowhard and an implicit admission of being a fool. An attorney in every practical sense of the word would know that he’s not a fucking attorney when he’s not an attorney and certainly not to represent himself as such.

              As always, we’ll have to take you at your word, which as you know is worthless in these parts. So we’ll take you for a dishonest, blowhardy fool.

        3. HOORAY! Look everyone, another lawyer.

          1. Probably not. Law school grad =/= lawyer.

            There is one exception. Let’s see if Bo is smart enough to claim it.

            1. It doesn’t matter, really. All we have to look forward to, forever, is a pretty steady diet of “well I am a lawyer, you know.”

              1. I kinda hope he (a) is what he claims to be and (b) sticks around.

                Private practice has a way of changing your perspective on things, if you are capable of change. Might be interesting to see Bo’s reaction to the real world.

                1. I’m no lawyer (or Doctor) but that was a jaw-dropping takedown.

          2. I must here note that my law-review editor son graduated at the top of his class a few weeks ago. He’s one smart kid. This is how I know for sure he is not Bo.

    4. It’s not the kids’ fault that the school is staffed by by hysterical…

      I disagree. Any reasonable person would be able to foresee that school resource officers secretly wish they were elite SWAT members with super-cool military-style gear and thus act in such a manner as to draw out a scenario where they are the middle of a tactical exercise with the big boys.

    5. This.

      I mean basically they are saying that anyone at any time can be charged with this felony at any time as long as some “official” decides that they think something might be a bomb.

    6. This is literally the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. It is malicious fraud, though they may not have understood what kind of response they were going to get from their prank.

      1. I’m pretty sure no one has ever been convicted of a crime for yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

        Aren’t all practical jokes malicious fraud?

  5. I’m skeptical that felony charges are warranted, since the kids clearly did not have anything nefarious in mind with their prank.

    Mens rea is so quaint.

  6. He said the subsequent investigation revealed the plans to pull the prank were spread via social media or email in the past few days, but no one alerted officials.

    The school administrator in charge of trawling student social networking really dropped the ball.

    1. Look dude, he was busy trawling the sexts and under-age drinking pictures.

  7. So, the school administration has never heard of ‘bolt cutters’?

    1. you’ve never heard of a booby trap?

      1. I see someone’s seen The Hurt Locker. Or Home Alone.

        1. add The Jackal and episode 2.1 of Sherlock

        2. Funny, but that’s exactly the point. Booby traps are a lot more effective than an arrow with “BOMB” written on it. And this,is probably the technology a terrorist not affiliated with the FBI would employ.

        3. What about the Foody Trap version of The Hurt Locker: The Hurts Donut?

      2. Cutting the lock off won’t set off a booby trap.

        Opening the door might, if there is one.

        1. Wire placed inside of lock. Circuit breaks when lock is cut. BOOM!

          It took me ten seconds to come up with that. And I’m not trying to blow anything up. I’m sure a person that is can come up with something equally creative.

          1. Well, yeah, if you think a booby trap includes visible wires running in the open.

            1. Ok, let’s run with this… You set up a fake lock with a small bluetooth device inside. You monitor a circuit that runs through the shackle. Inside the locker you place a large bomb with a little computer and an external power supply.

              Any attempt to open the lock will break the shackle circuit and the bomb goes off. The door is similarly monitored.

              Plus, you use mercury switches. The CIA used to hire mercs. They used the exact same setup. Mercury switches, gaflooey! That’s heavy shit.

              But that’s ok Sgt. Murtaugh. You go on thinking you can just cut the lock off….

          2. You’re neither a lawyer nor an engineer.

            1. I was going to say, it would be tough to detect the bolt being cut simply with a wire because there is enough metal connected that the circuit would still complete. Maybe if he was measuring the impedance…

          3. Then you don’t know how either locks or bolt cutters work.

            You cut the U-bar of the lock with the bolt cutter.

            So, unless you think you’re booby-trapper bored out the center of the u-bar (not an easy task) and ran a wire through it . . .

            Personally – if I was going to booby-tap the thing, I wouldn’t put a lock on it at all. Leave it unlocked or zip-tied and let it blow the instant someone opened the door.

            No-one would do that again anytime soon.

            *Locking* the thing is pointless at best, counter-productive at worst, unless you *didn’t* booby-trap it.

      3. I’ve never heard of a ticking bomb.

    2. I’m concerned about my future career prospects if a zip tie is all it takes to throw these dumb fucks a curve ball

      1. The students removed the zip ties and put their own locks on.

        1. I stand corrected.

          So to re-state and paraphrase Agammamon…. “Fucking bolt cutters: how do they work?”

          1. the good news is we know how to thwart a locker search by nosy school officials: Put something inside your locker that ticks.

  8. Government does not like to be made a fool, hence the excessive felony charge.

    1. This is probably the most true explanation.

      1. Yeah.

  9. The scariest part of this story is that a school has a student to faculty ratio of 7.5 to 1. That’s fucking insane.

    1. In a sane world it would be closer to 5 to 1 and the student to teacher ratio would be 7.5 to 1 by itself. If we would invest in schools instead of wars that could happen and we’d stop falling behind themchinese and Indians in our test scores.

      1. If we would invest in schools instead of wars

        Dumb, da dumb, dumb, duuuuuuumb!

        1. I think we probably spend too much money across the board but if we’re going to spend it at least we could invest in the future generations.
          And I blame Obama as much as the republicans for the war machine.

          1. You do realize that schools are paid for by property taxes, not federal income taxes? Moron.

            1. Mostly, yes. But the federal government does spend some money on public schools through grants.

              Also, where did I mention federal money? Or are you just assuming?

              1. Typically obtuse. And you wonder why no one likes you. Here’s a clue: if a couple people don’t like you then it’s their problem, while if no one likes you then it’s you. Sorry, but your mommy is wrong. You’re not smart, and you’re not likeable. You’re quite simply an ass.

                1. I thought lots of people liked me. I figured it’s why they can’t leave me alone for five minutes.

                  It doesn’t explain why they don’t reply to the substance of my point, but I’ll take baby steps.

                  1. It doesn’t explain why they don’t reply to the substance of my point

                    They can’t reply to something that doesn’t exist.

                    1. They can’t reply to something that doesn’t exist.

                      Doesn’t exist or, if it were to exist, is nonsensical.

                      “I said ‘If only we could catch invisible unicorns and paint them colors, then we’d have invisible colored unicorns.’ *you assumed* I meant *visible* colors.”

                    2. Hey now, let’s leave the Invisible Pink Unicorn out of this.

                    3. Racist!

              2. You brought up the war machine which is federal money when saying we could invest in future generations.

                1. Sigh. You can do it one of two ways: cut the war fundingmandmmake direct payments from the Feds to the states with stipulations that it be spent on education. Or you can cut federal taxes and let states raise taxes to offset the difference. Either way the money stays in the public sector,to be used for education.

                  1. So your answer to an answer where did you mention federal money was to mention federal money.

                    And quite frankly, we spend enough money on education.

                  2. What happened to the purity of Bo’s libertarianism?

                    I’m beginning to agree with the opinion that he is running many handles. He’s been outed and apparently doesn’t feel the need to consistency anymore. The Bo I’m familiar with wouldn’t be making arguments stipulating an ideal student-teacher ratio and federal funding of public education.

      2. You forget to sign out of Bo and into Shriek when you posted that reply?

        1. Droll. Very droll.

          i guess that’s all you’ve got.

          1. I’m not the one replying to my own posts disagreeing with myself.

      3. You can’t possibly be serious.

      4. Wut?

        The problem with American public schools isn’t lack of funding or staff.

      5. Bo, did you get any sleep after passing finals? Because you’re sounding insane today.

        5-1 of students to *faculty*?

      6. Gawd, you are retarded.

        My elementary school had a “student to ‘every fucking adult in the building’ ratio” of 8-1- this includes the janitors, the lunch ladies, the school nurse, and the administrative staff.

        1. 30 classrooms @25/class. 2 extra assistants in the “tard” class. 1 Principal, 1VP, 5 office ladies. 2 janitors. 1 nurse. 8 lunchroom workers. 1 gym teacher. 1 music teacher. 4-8 “student teachers” interning. 1 counselor.

          So, I was wrong- it was closer to 11-1

    2. You have stumbled into a reason US schools are expensive and ineffective.

  10. this reminds me, my Niece at a university, one of here assignments was about Bee keeping. So in the hills above the University she placed a bee hive and wrote her name and number on it with an explanation of what it was for. Guess what, yes they called the Bomb squad. Idiots I tell you Idiots.

    1. Hey, I heard tell of some of them geneticanally engineered franken-bees can detect explosives in land-mines? Could have been all them franken-bees were attracted to the explosives hidden behind the honey.

  11. I’m skeptical that felony charges are warranted, since the kids clearly did not have anything nefarious in mind with their prank.

    Silly Robby. Mens rea no longer exists, you know.

  12. This all seems a tad overboard, but perhaps that’s the correct response.

    Cosmotarian AND a bootlicker is no way to go through life, son.

  13. Farrell and Hall’s actions were certainly stupid?they tied up a lot of police resources for hours?and clearly some kind of punishment would be appropriate, like community service.

    I’m not sure who the stupidity of the actions was so certain. You can argue that pranks are stupid, but in the realm of H.S. pranking this wasn’t beyond the pale.

    1. Putting things back together after HS pranks usually result in extensive cleaning, property damage, or require the services of animal control or a crane and riggers. This one seemed to call for telling everyone to go back to class and breaking out the bolt cutters.

      I recall when I was in school the principal, coaches and janitors all had immediate access to bolt cutters.

  14. You’d think the alarm going off, rather than an explosion, might indicate the clocks weren’t time bomb components. Unless it was an episode of the 1960s Batman TV show.

  15. Is it a bomb? A troubleshooting guide

    1) Does it tick? YES: proceed to step 2.
    …………………….NO: it’s not a bomb, you fucking moron.

  16. In the early 1990s, in high school, we used to pass around a fake bomb with an alarm clock on it. It looked like 3 sticks of dynamite with wires leading to the clock. Somebody had bought it at some novelty shop. We took turns keeping it in our lockers and carrying it around the school on occasion. No one ever even blinked an eye.

    Shit has gotten crazy in this country.

    1. in my high school in the 70’s someone used real dynamite in the restroom. Good old fashioned pranks.

  17. Wait. Does the school not have a pair of bolt cutters?

    I mean when I was in high school the janitorial staff kept a pair around just in case some dumbass forgot his combination.

    What kind of a moron do you have to be to hear ticking and have the first place your mind go is “bomb” and then go there so hard that you legitimately fear that even cutting the lock will trigger it

  18. When do we get to the point where you get the outcome you deserve because at some point, everyone should know that local officials have IQs that run 75% lower than everyone else’s, so it’s like you’re jumping out with a clown mask and yelling “Boo!” at a retarded, autistic kid?

  19. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My neighbour’s sister has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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  20. We have definitely moved into a world where the reaction is more important than whatever act you commit. If you tell a joke at work, it isn’t your intent that matters, it is the fact that someone was offended. If you ask a lady at a conference to have coffee and she doesn’t find you attractive, she survived an attempted sexual assault. (real example from skeptic community)

    Back in the 90’s there was a group of frat boys doing an initiation party. They grabbed a bunch of pledges and dressed them in togas and tied them with sheets in the back of a pickup. They took them on a ride to the party late at night. Someone called the police, who responded by arresting the guys for kidnapping and disorderly conduct…. even though the pledges told them they were going voluntarily and it was just a party. In justifying the charges, the sheriff said that they need to understand the seriousness of the situation. (this despite the fact that there was no seriousness to the situation)

    This is the world we live in now. Drawings of guns are guns if they make someone feel that way. “Hey, I like your new dress” is sexual harassment if she feels that way. Joking about how frustrated you are with the TSA on twitter is a terroristic threat if someone at the TSA thinks it is.

    And putting a clock is a bomb threat, even if you never thought of the connection to bombs and just wanted these loud clocks to start ringing at random intervals.

    1. Alfred Korzybski gives you a +1

  21. I, for one, don’t want to live in a world where every child can’t grow up and claim to be an attorney on the Internet.

    1. You already live in that world.

    2. On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog not an attorney.

  22. “Farrell and Hall’s actions were certainly stupid?they tied up a lot of police resources for hours?and clearly some kind of punishment would be appropriate, like community service.”

    Correction: the school administrator who got freaked out tied up police resources for hours. I don’t recall the students calling the cops.

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