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Monday, April 21, 2008

Student Arrested For Planning 'Columbine III', After Parents Call Authorities

A South Carolina teen appeared in court today, after being arrested Saturday when his parents opened a package that had been delivered for him and found 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate, then contacted authorities.
Ammonium nitrate is a substance that can be used as an explosive when combined with diesel fuel or another similar agent.

Ryan Schallenberger, an 18 year old high school student, was charged for plotting to bomb his school, when authorities found designs for an arsenal of explosives including a nail bomb that would have "devastated" students in a crowded hallway, according to a local police chief.

The teenager kept detailed records as well, of his expenses and his plans, calling the plot, "Columbine III", and laying out what is called the "bomb summary", which described the different types of explosives he would use in the suicide attack.

Randall Lear, who is the Chesterfield Police Chief, told ABC News, "I think he was more concerned about a high body count than killing anyone in particular."

Lear continued with details of what type of damage this would have done when he said, "Inside a school, with confined concrete walls, just a little bit of nails, nuts and bolts, ball bearings and some of these explosives devices, it would devastate the student body."

This caused the authorities to have bomb-sniffing dogs go through the school checking classrooms and hallways to make sure Schallenberger hadn't already left some type of device in the school.

Jay Hodge, the Chesterfield County prosecutor, is planning to ask the court to order that Schallenberger undergo a mental evaluation, when he appears in court tomorrow for a bail hearing.

I see in an ABC report that Lear has other things to say about how close this teenager was to being able to carry out the attack.

While there was no date provided for the bombing, Lear said that with the shipment of ammonium nitrate, he had all the materials he would need to carry out the attack at his fingertips.

"This was a legitimate threat," Lear said. "Once that package was in, he had what he needed to formulate these explosives devices."

He gives the credit to those that deserve it the most, the parents for having the courage to turn their son in as he says, "I can honestly tell you, were I faced with that scenario, I don't know if I could have made that decision. I don't know whether I would have been brave enough to do what these parents did."

[Update] Authorities found other items that belonged to Schallenberger, which included, a CD that featured "every available source of reporting" on the April 20, 1999 Columbine School massacre which resulted in the deaths of 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before the two students responsible, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, committed suicide.

The authorities also found an audio recording which would have served as Schallenberger's suicide note, saying goodbye and explaining his attack on the school.

"In one of his rants, he was going on about undeserving people," Lear said, describing a possible motivation for the planned attack. "It was something like, 'You've got all these rich guys that think they're better than everyone else, and they get all the hot girlfriends, and they don't deserve the hot girlfriends.'"

Despite a heavy police presence at the Chesterfield High School on Monday, the school Schallenberger had intended his attack, only a quarter of the students showed up for classes.

Chesterfield High School principal, Scott Radkin, told ABC news, "My statement to parents was, 'You do what you feel like is best for your child'."