Tempe teen accused of making explosive device pleads not guilty - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

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Tempe teen accused of making explosive device pleads not guilty

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Joshua Prater, 18, is a senior at Marcos De Niza High School. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Joshua Prater, 18, is a senior at Marcos De Niza High School. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Tempe Police Department) (Source: Tempe Police Department)
(Source: Tempe Police Department) (Source: Tempe Police Department)
Police take Joshua Prater into custody. (Source: Tempe Police Department) Police take Joshua Prater into custody. (Source: Tempe Police Department)
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

A Tempe high school student who police say had a homemade bomb in his room pleaded not guilty to misconduct charges.

Joshua Prater, 18, a senior at Marcos De Niza High School, made his plea in Maricopa County Superior Court in Mesa on Thursday morning, according to court officials.

Prater was arrested May 9 on charges of misconduct involving weapons and possessing a prohibited weapon and an improvised explosive device. A cleaning woman found a bomb and other materials at a home where she was working, police said.

Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Mike Pooley said the homemade device had the potential to injure or kill a human being.

Prater told police he built the device 10 years ago and didn't know it contained explosive powder, Pooley said. Pooley said there were no notes or known motive.

Some students at the high school said they were surprised that Prater was allegedly behind the device.

Jackson Loney and Prater attend the same second-hour class. Loney said Prater is funny, nice and intelligent.

Loney did say that he thought Prater seemed like an "outcast" who didn't appear to have many friends in the class, although Loney admitted he doesn't know him outside the classroom.

Junior Emily Kingsley also said Prater was smart, but she didn't think Prater had a lot of friends and that he kept to himself.

"Every time I saw him, he seemed like such a good kid," she said.

Kingsley said she was planning on attending the school's graduation ceremony, but that now she's "kind of hesitant."

A spokesman for the Tempe Union High School District said the school was swept by Tempe police before classes began Wednesday morning, and parents could feel safe to send students to school.

The device contained gunpowder and was small enough to fit in a person's hand, Pooley said.

It was constructed from a CO2 cartridge, a fuse often used in fireworks, low explosive gunpowder, match heads and fireworks, according to a court document.

The maid told police she found what looked like a bomb about 2:30 p.m. and took the device to a Tempe fire station to have it checked out, Pooley said.

When fire department personnel saw the device, they immediately notified Tempe police.

Police rushed to the scene and deemed it a legitimate improvised explosive device, Pooley said. 

The IED was disabled and the maid told officers there were more materials at the home.

Pooley said she had also taken photos of the materials, which showed items used for making more IEDs.

Police searched the home in the 1600 block of East Candlestick Road. 

Pooley said friends had apparently taught Prater how to make the device.

Officers said they are now trying to pin down a motive. They believe the suspect was acting alone.

He is schedule to be in court again July 10.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.

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