ARLINGTON, Texas – The mother of a Sikh middle school student accused of threatening to detonate a bomb at his Texas school is asking police to drop charges, saying that her son never made such a threat.
Armaan Singh, 12, was arrested Dec. 11 after police said he admitted to making the threat while they were questioning him without his parents present. He spent three days in juvenile detention before being released and placed under house arrest with ankle monitor. He also was suspended from school.
His mother, Gurdeep Kaur, said a classmate asked whether a battery in Armaan's backpack was a bomb, and that he said it wasn't, but the classmate told the teacher he said it was.
There was no bomb in the backpack.
Kaur said the family didn't learn of Armaan's arrest until hours after it happened. She told The Associated Press that she panicked when he didn't come home from school, and after searching the apartment complex, they went to the school to look for him. She said they called the principal, who told them Armaan had been taken into custody.
"She told them that he was with the police but she didn't know which facility," said Arlington schools spokeswoman Leslie Johnston.
Kaur said the family finally learned Armaan was in the detention center four hours after his arrest when they called police.
She said when they arrived at the detention center late Friday, Armaan, who has had three open-heart surgeries, asked to be taken home. But she said there was no judge available to arrange his probation.
Police have rejected allegations that the boy's Sikh religion played a part in his arrest. Sikhism, a monotheistic faith, was founded more than 500 years ago in Southeast Asia and has roughly 27 million followers worldwide, most of them in India. Even though Sikhs aren't Muslim, reports of Sikhs being harassed have increased with the recent rise in anti-Islamic sentiment.
Even though all four of her children were born in the U.S., Kaur said she wonders if Armaan's background factored into his arrest.
"I know they're taking it very seriously, but is this thing what they do with a 12-year-old because his parents are not from here? My husband and I are from India," Kaur said.
The case comes three months after a 14-year-old Muslim boy of Pakistani descent was arrested at his high school in nearby Irving, another Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, after he brought a homemade clock to school that was mistaken for a possible bomb.
Ahmed Mohamed was detained but quickly released. His family questioned whether he was mistreated due to his religion and eventually left Irving after reporting threats. They now live in Qatar. His lawyers have threatened to sue the city and school district, and the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the incident.