A Minnesota teenager who admired the Columbine killers was charged Thursday with 10 attempted murder and explosives counts in a plot to shoot his family to death and then kill himself and "as many students as he could" by blowing up a school, authorities said.
Police said John David LaDue, 17, of Waseca, was less than two weeks away from carrying out his remarkably detailed plans to bomb Waseca Junior/Senior High School, about 75 miles south of Minneapolis, when he was arrested Tuesday.
Police said they found three fully functional bombs, other bomb-making materials, gunpowder, numerous firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in LaDue's home and in a rented storage locker.
LaDue was charged with four counts of first-degree attempted murder and six counts of possession of explosives, along with two counts of attempted damage to property. He was held at a juvenile facility after his arraignment Thursday morning.
An obviously shaken Waseca police Capt. Kris Markeson said at a news conference that LaDue almost certainly would have been able to carry out the attack based on "the amount of preparation that he put into this."
All that stopped him was a witness who phoned in a report of a suspicious person at the rental unit Tuesday night, Markeson said. Police said in a statement that because that person did the right thing, "unimaginable tragedy has been prevented."
In the statement and in an investigative affidavit, police outlined a frighteningly comprehensive plan that LaDue detailed in a journal he kept in a locked guitar case in his bedroom.
The journal records LaDue's fascination with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who gunned down 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado 15 years ago last month, police said.
It describes a sequence of events in which LaDue would shoot his parents and his sister and then set a series of fires to divert emergency crews.
Once the first responders were out of the way, he planned to set off pressure cooker bombs at the school during the lunch hour — a time chosen so "as many students as possible" would be killed, according to the journal, as described in the official documents.
He then expected to die in a shootout with police or school security officers, the documents say.
Markeson wouldn't discuss possible motives, but he said there was no indication that LaDue had been bullied at school or that he had any accomplices.
Thomas Lee, superintendent of the Waseca Public Schools, told reporters Thursday that teachers and administrators knew LaDue as a good student who was "a little quiet" and caused no trouble.
"Today has been a very rough day," Lee said.
First published May 1 2014, 3:30 PM