Ahmed Mohamed says it took him only 20 minutes to build the homemade clock: he wired a circuit board and power supply to a digital display and stuffed the device into a pencil case before bed on Sunday. The next day, the 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas—a member of his middle school robotics club who makes radios and repairs his own go-kart—showed his creation to his engineering teacher, hoping to impress him, per the Dallas Morning News. "He was like, 'That's really nice,'" but said not to show the clock to other teachers, Ahmed says. When it beeped during another lesson, however, Ahmed revealed his invention to a teacher, who told him it looked like a bomb. Soon, Ahmed tells NBC Dallas police officers arrived, questioned him, then cuffed him and led him to police headquarters for fingerprints, mugshots, and an interrogation.
Officers, who took the clock and Ahmed's tablet, tell USA Today Ahmed was being "passive aggressive" during questioning, and though he maintained the device was a clock, couldn't provide a "reasonable answer" for why he had it. "I brought something to school that wasn't a threat to anyone. I didn't do anything wrong," Ahmed says, adding he was denied a phone call to his father and his surname was repeatedly mentioned by officers. "I think this wouldn't even be a question if his name wasn't Ahmed Mohamed," says a rep for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is investigating, per the BBC. "He just wants to invent good things for mankind," Ahmed's father adds. "But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated." Ahmed was released to his parents and suspended from school for three days. Police say they may still press charges of making a hoax bomb. (Read more bomb hoax stories.)