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.