Ahmed Mohamed, a high school student in Irving, Texas, hoped to show off his engineering skills, so he made a clock in about 20 minutes and brought it to school to show his teachers. Mohamed loved robotics club in middle school and was looking for something similar at MacArthur High. Go, ambitious and inventive kids! Seems like cool news, right?
Until you get to the part where he got arrested and reportedly received a three-day suspension because the school thought it looked like a bomb.
The 14-year-old boy first showed it to his engineering teacher.
"He was like, 'That's really nice,'" Mohamed said. "'I would advise you not to show any other teachers.'"
Later, the clock's alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson during English class. After the teacher complained, Mohamed showed her the invention.
"She was like, 'It looks like a bomb,'" he said.
"I told her, 'It doesn't look like a bomb to me.'"
The teacher kept the clock. She and the school's principal were suspicious and they called the police. Then, the principal and a police officer pulled Mohamed out of sixth period and led him to a room where four other officers were waiting. Mohamed repeatedly said it wasn't a bomb.
Mohamed says an officer he'd never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: "Yup. That's who I thought it was."
The boy was questioned and searched, and the principal even threatened to expel him if he didn't make a written statement. He was then fingerprinted and released to his family.
"He would simply only tell us that it was a clock," police spokesman James McLellan said. "He didn't offer an explanation as to what it was for, why he created this device, why he brought it to school."
On Sunday, Mohamed had taken apart a clock and rebuilt it inside a pencil case, which resembled a small briefcase with a hologram of a tiger on it. It was stuffed with a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display.
"I closed it with a cable. ... I didn't want to lock it to make it seem like a threat so I just used a simple cable," he told the Dallas Morning News in the video below. It was the first time he had brought an invention to school to show a teacher.
MacArthur Principal Dan Cummings addressed a letter to "Parents/Guardians," saying that the Irving Police Department responded "to a suspicious-looking item on campus yesterday" and assessed that "the item ... did not post a threat to your child's safety."
The letter goes on to say, "I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited. ... We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students."
"I think this wouldn't even be a question if his name wasn't Ahmed Mohamed," Alia Salem of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told local news WFAA.
Many have offered Mohamed support, especially with the trending hashtag, #IStandWithAhmed. A strong number of his supporters are claiming discrimination because of his religion or skin color.