Crime & Courts

Middle school students planned ‘Columbine-style’ attack on classmates, NC cops say

School shooters: Know the warning signs

Though there is no single profile for school shooters, people at risk for hurting themselves or others often exhibit warning signs before committing acts of violence. Knowing the signs can help prevent crimes and get people the help they need.
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Though there is no single profile for school shooters, people at risk for hurting themselves or others often exhibit warning signs before committing acts of violence. Knowing the signs can help prevent crimes and get people the help they need.

Students at a North Carolina middle school used social media to plan a “Columbine-style” attack on specific classmates and a teacher, according to the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

Four Carver Middle School students, between 12-13 years old, face felony charges of communicating threats against a school, Capt. Jessica Sadovnikov said in an interview with The State.

The school district has not made any public comments about the investigation.

They planned a “Columbine-style” attack, Sadovnikov said of the students who messaged each other on Instagram about executing a school shooting.

The school discovered the messages on Jan. 22 and conducted an internal investigation before alerting the sheriff’s office on Jan. 24, according to Sadovnikov. She told The State there were possibly six students involved, calling one “the mastermind,” and more charges could be filed.

“They named a specific teacher and students on a list to kill,” said Sadovnikov, adding one of the students specifically mentioned Columbine by name, saying they wanted to re-enact what happened at the suburban Denver school when 13 people were killed in a 1999 shooting.

Sadovnikov said the students, which she described as a male and females, are not currently incarcerated, although the sheriff’s office has filed a petition to put them in a juvenile detention center. She said a juvenile judge could rule Tuesday on securing the students or allowing them to remain at home with their parents.

The sheriff’s office is currently conducting interviews and performing digital analysis of the students’ phones and social media accounts, according to Sadovnikov.

“We know it was a plan. What we are trying to find out is what was their capability?” Sadovnikov said. “There is reasonable suspicion the mastermind had access to weapons, but we haven’t confirmed that yet.”

She said more students could be charged for failing to report the threats or for planning to participate in the attack.

What Gov. Henry McMaster said about school safety and his plan to put a resource officer in every school as part of his annual State of the State speech.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.


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