Did 12-year-old Armaan Sing Sarai make “terroristic threats” and tell a teacher he brought a bomb to school, or was he a victim of bullying, racial profiling, and overzealous Texas cops?
Sarai, a 12-year-old Sikh boy living in Arlington, Texas, is at the center of a controversy after his family members claim the preteen was the victim of a cruel hoax, perpetrated by a school bully, that landed the young man in juvenile detention for three days. The Arlington police, however, are telling a completely different story.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, on Friday, December 11, Arlington police were called to Nichols Junior High School after a student — identified as Sarai — allegedly threatened to “blow up the school.” Sarai was taken to a juvenile detention facility and questioned.
In a Facebook post that his since gone viral, Ginee Haer, who identifies herself as Armaan’s cousin, claims that Sarai and his family were victims of a prank played by a school bully.
“On Friday, December 11th, 2015, my cousin attended school, like any other normal 12 year old child. A bully in class thought it would be funny to accuse him of having a bomb, and so the principal, without any questioning, interrogation, or notification to his parents, called the police. Worried & frightened at home, his family was concerned as to why he had not reached home right after school. They started calling every police department in the area, only to find out he was sent to a Juvenile facility. They kept him held behind bars for three consecutive days, before finally releasing him on Monday,December 15th.”
That’s Ginee’s version of the story. In another Facebook post, Aksh D. Singh, who identifies himself as Armaan’s older brother, posted a photo of an email he sent to school principal Julie Harcrow. That email gives a few details that Ginee left out — details that make it seem like Armaan may not have been completely innocent.
“My little brother Armaan… was taken from school to Kimbo Juvenile center because he AND other students were joking about bomb threats. I know we live in a time when such an accusation is serious, but this is outrageous…”
Arlington Police Lt. Christopher Cook, however, tells a much different version of what happened that day. Cook says that another student, who hasn’t been identified, told a teacher that Sarai told him (the student) that he (Sarai) was planning to blow up the school. Specifically, according to the student, Sarai claimed to have a bomb in his backpack, wired to go off at a certain time, and that Sarai planned to leave the bomb in a school bathroom and flee. The school evacuated a nearby classroom and, after the teacher concluded that Sarai’s backpack didn’t contain a bomb, the school called the police.
— Jack Fink (@cbs11jack) December 18, 2015
Cook also stated that during interrogation, Sarai admitted to joking about bringing a bomb, but insisted he was joking.
Cook says that schools take bomb threats seriously, and that even joking about having a bomb at school is considered a terroristic threat — a felony.
“People have got to learn they cannot make these types of threats which cause alarm, which cause evacuations. Just because you say it’s a joke, it doesn’t get you out of trouble.”
Whether or not any other kids, besides Sarai, were joking about bombs, and whether any of them were disciplined, is not clear. It should be noted that in situations involving schoolchildren and behavior issues at school, schools are almost always unable to give their side of the story, or provide any further information, because schoolchildren are minors and schools are bound by privacy laws.
Leslie Johnston, a spokesman for the Arlington school district, did, however, give a few details that contradict Armaan’s family’s version of the story. Johnston says that he did, in fact, contact Sarai’s parents when he first got into trouble, and that they were aware that he had been taken to juvenile detention.
As for how long Sarai was in juvenile detention, that is not clear: Lt. Cook says he does not know how long Armaan was kept there.
As of this writing, Ginee Haer’s post about her cousin Armaan Singh Sarai’s ordeal has been shared over 8,000 times and “Liked” over 19,000 times.
[Image via Facebook]