An Irving teen whose homemade clock was confused for a "hoax bomb" by police and school officials will not face charges, police say, and has been invited to the White House.
Irving Chief of Police Larry Boyd said Wednesday that Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student at MacArthur High School, will not face charges of possessing a "hoax bomb" because there is no evidence to support the teen wanted to create alarm.
The Texas teen brought his homemade clock to school this week to show to his engineering teacher after being encouraged by his father to demonstrate his gift for technology.
The clock began beeping in another class and shortly afterward the boy was pulled from class, questioned and searched. A teacher and police officer believed the "suspicious looking" device was a "hoax bomb" and the clock was confiscated. The boy was put in handcuffs and taken to Irving police headquarters for questioning.
Irving Police spokesman Ofc. James McLellan said school officials simply thought the device was suspicious and acted out of caution.
Ahmed was eventually released to his parents, who believe that race played a factor in their son being taken into custody. School officials, however, insist the reaction to the clock would have been the same regardless of his religion.
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who has accused mosque leaders of creating separate laws for Muslims and claimed imams were "bypassing American courts" by offering mediation, said school officials followed protocol when investigating the clock.
Following Wednesday's news conference, President Barack Obama tweeted "Cool clock, Ahmed," and included an invitation for the teen to come to the White House next month and show off his homemade clock to leading scientists on astronomy night. Obama added that more children should be inspired to take an interest in science.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the episode involving Ahmed a "teachable moment" and that he was "failed" by his teachers who thought a clock was possibly a bomb.
Earnest said the invitation was offered as a way for Ahmed to "nurture that intellectual curiosity."
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also tweeted support, telling the teen to stay curious and keep building.
Ahmed said he is pleased the case was dropped and is amazed by the support he has received.
"It didn't bother me that they didn't apologize. I just know all the supporters I have. An apology has already been made by all my supporters," he said.
The incident has drawn broad attention and the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed was tweeted more than 450,000 times by early Wednesday afternoon.
The boy's family says Ahmed was suspended for three days. School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver declined to confirm the suspension, citing privacy laws.
Ahmed said his MacArthur High School suspension is still in place through Thursday but he and his family intend to make a transfer to a different school, yet to be announced.
Attorney Linda Moreno is now representing the family in its dealings moving forward with the Irving Police Department and the Irving ISD.
"We are committed to ensuring that Ahmed's interests are protected, and that he gets to study in an environment that rewards creativity," she said.
Moreno, of Doughty Street Chambers in London, told NBCDFW she outright dismisses any suggestion that her client's teacher was acting out of anything other than fear and prejudice.
"If I really believed that this was some sort of weapon of destruction, a good teacher, their first impulse would be evacuate the school. But that's not what happened here," Moreno said.
The teen's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said he is proud of America but still blames fear of Islam for what happened to his son.
"It was hell, and it was torture and he was arrested and was mistreated," the father said.
The teen said he wants accept the president's invitation to the White House and use what happened to continue drawing attention to talented students.
"I will try my best not just to help me but to help every other kid in the entire world who has a problem like this," he said.
Ahmed was even offered an internship by Twitter through—obviously— a tweet:
"Hi @IStandWithAhmed, we (heart) building things at @twitter too. Would you consider interning with us? We'd love it — DM us! #IStandWithAhmed"