Reuters / Mariana Bazo
Police in Waseca, Minnesota, announced on Thursday that they had foiled a detailed and potentially devastating plot by a teenage boy to kill his family and numerous students at a local high school.
According to the Mankato Free Press, law enforcement officials said they arrested 17-year-old John David LaDue on Tuesday in connection to the deadly scheme. The teenager reportedly confessed to police after they correctly guessed that he was building explosive devices, and he is believed to have been acting on his own.
Appearing in juvenile court on Thursday, LaDue was charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of possessing explosive or incendiary devices, and two counts of criminal damage to property.
As noted by the Free Press, LaDue reportedly laid out his entire plan in a 180-page notebook, in which he also made reference to the school shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. the teenager allegedly told police of his plan to shoot his father, mother, and sister with a rifle, ignite a fire in a field to distract first responders, and then proceed to the local high school to continue his assault.
At the high school, LaDue reportedly said he would set off multiple bombs that he’d made, throw Molotov cocktails, and shoot “as many students as he could.” Three complete explosive devices were found in his room, and the teenager apparently confessed to setting off practice bombs that were found at an elementary school playground in March.
On Thursday, police stated LaDue could have succeeded in his plan if they weren’t tipped off by a local resident who saw the teenager acting suspiciously at a storage facility.
“He shut the door, and I thought it looked funny,” Chelsea Shellhas, who phoned police, said to local news outlet WCCO. “Because, normally, we see people come here, and it doesn’t take them 10 minutes to open a storage shed, so that’s why I called it in.”
When police arrived at the scene, they found LaDue inside with plenty of dangerous material – gunpowder, a pressure cooker, pyrotechnic chemicals, and more, according to CNN.
"This case is a classic example of citizens doing the right thing in calling the police when things seem out of place. By doing the right thing, (an) unimaginable tragedy has been prevented," Waseca Police Captain Kris Markeson said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
LaDue also allegedly told police he was in possession of numerous firearms, including an assault rifle with 400 rounds of ammunition and a Barretta 9 mm handgun. These were later found in his room alongside three bombs.
“My personal feeling is that I’m very disturbed by the amount of items that he had of that nature,” Markeson told WCCO.
In addition to studying previous school shootings, the teenager reportedly idolized those behind the Columbine shooting, and hoped to carry out his own plan on its anniversary. April 20, however, fell on Easter Sunday this year, and school was out.
Speaking with CNN, LaDue’s mother said the family would prefer not to make a statement at this time.
“Our family is dealing with a lot of grief,” she said. “I appreciate your concern.”