Teen said he wanted to 'blow up Muslim church,' brought white powder to school, police say

PHOENIX — An Arizona teen is in police custody after he reportedly said he wanted to blow up a mosque and brought potassium nitrate to his high school, officials said.

According to KPNX-TV, Phoenix police arrested the 15-year-old Pinnacle High School student Tuesday after a classmate saw him with "several pounds" of white powder, authorities said. Police later determined that the substance was potassium nitrate, which "can be mixed with other chemicals to create a flash powder," the Arizona Republic reported.

The discovery came one day after the boy told the same classmate that he wanted to "blow up a Muslim church," police said. Although the classmate alerted police about the comment Monday, he told the responding officers that the boy didn't appear to have any weapons to carry out the threat, KPNX reported.

"Making a threat to blow up a church or house of worship is one thing, but then the following day when an individual is found with some chemicals that could create an explosion, that changes things," Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson told reporters Wednesday, according to KPNX.

Police did not identify the student or say whether he faces criminal charges.

In a statement, the Paradise Valley school district said its officials "take all incidents and any reported allegations seriously and work with law enforcement on all police matters."

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"Teens should be reminded that making alleged threats, even when they intend it as a joke, can have severe consequences and is considered a felony," read the statement obtained by KPNX. "Parents should never hesitate to call or email the school, as well as the police if they hear or see any concerning information."

The district also stressed that "there were no threats made directly to the school and at no time were students in danger," the news station reported.

The incident came just days after hundreds of people died in attacks on Catholic churches, hotels and other sites in Sri Lanka. Last month, 50 people also were killed in terrorist attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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