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VIDEO Update: Hawkins teens planning school massacre studied Columbine

June 12th, 2014 7:38 pm by Jeff Bobo

VIDEO Update: Hawkins teens planning school massacre studied Columbine

Hawkins County Director of Schools Steve Starnes, left, speaks during a press conference Friday morning as Sheriff Ronnie Lawson listens. Jeff Bobo photo.

ROGERSVILLE — By all accounts they weren't bullied, they weren't school discipline problems, and they weren't bad students.

In fact, the boys accused of plotting a school massacre at Volunteer High School last year didn't really stand out in any way, good or bad.

But, that was going to change.

According to law enforcement officials, the teens intended to become the most notorious mass murderers of all time, with the highest body count.

They allegedly wanted to be famous, and their road to fame would be paved with the bodies of their classmates and teachers at Volunteer High School in Church Hill.

Authorities say the boys, who are now 16 and 17, even studied the 1999 Columbine school shooting, correcting "mistakes" made by those shooters for the purpose of maximizing the number of student and faculty deaths in their planned Volunteer High School massacre.

"This wasn't just a threat," Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said Friday. "This was a planned attack."

Their plot was foiled in October of 2013 by an attentive parent who found a notebook outlining the plans; and a mental health professional who recognized that the plot was real and notified police.

On Thursday both boys appeared in Hawkins County Juvenile Court charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, and possession of explosive components.

As of Friday both boys remained in state's custody.

A bond of $75,000 was been set for the boy accused of being the leader. If released he would be required to be on house arrest, under constant adult supervision, and would be banned from all Hawkins County School System property.

A July 31 bond hearing is set in Hawkins County Juvenile Court for the other boy.

The plot was brought to the attention of the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 25, 2013 by mental health professional with Youth Villages Counseling Services who had met with the boy accused of being the leader.

His father reportedly found a notebook containing writings outlining his massacre plans.

As a result the father took the boy to receive a mental health counseling. The counselor determined that the boy was dangerous and called the HCSO.

On Dec.12, 2013 HCSO Sgt. Renee Rogers and other deputies executed a search warrant at the boy's home and discovered several firearms owned by the father, as well as numerous journals, firecrackers, and what appeared to be gunpowder in a plastic bag.

The journals reportedly contained detailed handwritten notes about the boy's attempts to recruit other students into his massacre plot, as well as floor plans of the school, and plans about how the attacks would be carried out.

The plan included killing the school resource officer first, and outlined where the maximum number of students could be killed — in the lunch room and hallways.

The plan also determined students' most likely route of retreat, and where to place bombs in doorways and exits.

Other students reportedly told investigators they had been invited to join the alleged leader in his plot. When they declined they were threatened, and told to tell no one.

"This young man (the alleged leader) was obsessed with the Columbine school shooting of 1999 in Colorado, and he also took the time to study their plan of attack, and he found the mistakes they made, that he would not," Lawson said. "This young man was infatuated with serial killers and mass murderers."

On Dec. 27, 2013 a second juvenile told the HCSO that he and the alleged leader had talked about attacking the school and killing students and faculty.

As the investigation progressed the HCSO reportedly discovered videos posted online of the two boys holding and firing firearms including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and detonating "dry ice" and "Drano" style bombs, as well as "Molotov Cocktails."

Both boys had been removed from the school at the outset of the investigation, and Lawson stressed that from the time the investigation began these boys were no longer a threat.

Lawson noted Friday that it is the responsibility of all students to report all potential threats to school safety.

"If you hear someone making a threat or plan to attack a school, you need to let the authorities know," Lawson said. "In this case, this could have been an all out attack."

Press conference held 6-13-14 at 9:30 a.m.

Previous story

ROGERSVILLE — A mental health professional told police last year that a teenage patient's apparent plan to commit a mass shooting at Volunteer High School was "very real."

A detention hearing was held Thursday in Hawkins County Juvenile Court for two boys accused of planning a mass shooting last year at the Church Hill high school.

The boys, ages 16 and 17, have been charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder in addition to other charges, all related to the planning of a mass shooting over the course of the 2012-13 school year.

The boys were 15 and 16 when the alleged planning began.

Details of the allegations will be released Friday morning during a news conference at the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office in Rogersville.

Sources in law enforcement told the Times-News that one of the boy's parents found a notebook containing the boy's plans for attacking Volunteer High School.

The boy's father took the boy to see a mental health professional who, upon speaking with the boy, contacted law enforcement officials immediately to report that this was a very real threat.

Law enforcement then contacted the school system and the boy was taken out of the school.

The evidence reportedly will include numerous diaries and journals containing information indicating highly detailed plans for a school shooting.

Third Judicial District Attorney General Berkeley Bell said both boys were remanded into state custody during Thursday's Juvenile Court hearing.

"We are contemplating and reviewing right now whether or not to seek a transfer for them to be tried as adults," Bell added.

Both boys have been incarcerated since the investigation began, albeit for different reasons.

These arrest warrants have been issued for several months, and were served as the boys were to be released on their other issues.

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