HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - A planned attack of one Hawkins County High School was prevented, and the two teenagers police say were behind the plan are in custody.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson says the boys planned to kill as many students and teachers as possible, starting with the school resource officer. Both teens are now charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder along, with other charges.
Sheriff Lawson says an employee with Youth Villages Counseling Services reported one of the students to the sheriff's office after finding a journal which had information about a mass shooting at Volunteer High School.
Lawson says the counselor also told police they spoke with the teen, and he said he devised a plan to carry out a shooting his senior year. "This definitely was not a threat. It was a planned attack," he said.
It has left the community shocked after learning about a detailed plan to carry out a mass shooting at Volunteer High School. "I guess this day and time you just never know what kids are going to plan or try to do," adds Minnie Spitzer.
Courtney Stapleton just graduated from Volunteer and she's devastated. "It's really scary. I don't know how anyone could plan anything like that, especially with all your friends and stuff," she said.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson says one of the boys came up with the plan, then tried to recruit other students to help him carry it out. One boy agreed to help.
Lawson says then the two boys mapped out where they would carry out the shooting inside the school, "They had studied the school, where there was a maximum amount of students in the lunch room, in the hallways. [They planned to] block exits and even had plans to kill the SRO officer first," he said.
When deputies searched the home of one of the suspects, they found handwritten notes on how to carry out the attack, as well as more plans and weapons. "We got several guns, journals, firecrackers, gunpowder, and floor plans of the school," Lawson said.
Lawson says one of the boys told deputies he became obsessed with the Columbine High School shooting of 1999 and began studying what happened. "He identified all of the killers' mistakes during that attack and said he was going to do his best to not make the same mistakes," Lawson said.
Sheriff Lawson also says they found videos of the suspects on the internet firing guns and setting off homemade explosives. "You always think it happens somewhere else, but when it's your own county, your own school, anything is possible anywhere. That's why I think if a student in a school knows of somebody even threatening or talking about it, they need to tell authorities," he said.
One of the students had a bond hearing Thursday. The judge gave him a $75,000 bond; he must stay under house arrest and parental supervision, and is not allowed near any Hawkins County School.
The other teen is still awaiting his bond hearing.
As of the press conference Friday morning, both boys were still in the state's custody.