Two high school teenagers from Georgia were arrested Wednesday, Oct. 25, after their plan to attack their classmates and faculty at their Atlanta-area high school was discovered before they could carry it out.
On Thursday, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said he believes authorities prevented a “Columbine-type” incident at the high school, Fox News reported. Reynolds’ quote was in reference to the Columbine high school massacre that took place in 1999.
Department spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley told reporters that Alfred Dupree and Victoria McCurley, both 17-year-olds, face charges including criminal attempt to commit murder and criminal attempt to commit arson, for threats against Etowah High School and its staff.
The pair, a male, and a female were both denied bond during their first court appearances on Thursday, Fox News reported.
In an emotional video reposted by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office – Georgia, Kelley broke down while talking about the high school threat.
The description said, “Well done, Sgt. Kelley. This is the heart of a real law enforcement woman that cares about her community. We are proud of you. -Sheriff Reynolds”
Authorities made the arrests after finding a personal journal that belonged to Dupree. It included a list of targets at the school and in it, Dupree made “concerning statements” according to Kelley. However, those statements did not mention when the attack would occur, only what the students planned to do.
Investigators were tipped off by a community member who contacted the police, Fox News reported.
“The real hero in my opinion is the initial person who made the call, made the tip,” Reynolds told reporters at a news conference.
When investigators received the tip, they later met with Dupree and his family on Monday and learned of McCurley’s involvement in the planned plot, Fox News reported.
As authorities searched the homes of the two teenagers they found firearms, a powdered substance, and a flammable incendiary device. The high school is located about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
“The incendiary devices were described to us as flammable substances, it’s been turned over to the [Georgia Bureau of Investigations] to be tested,” Kelley said.
On Wednesday, Cherokee County Schools sent a letter home to all parents in the school district, addressing the arrest NBC affiliate 11Alive reported. The letter said in part that, “Our community is strongest when we work together to keep all of us — especially our children — safe.”
One of Dupree’s neighbors told FOX5 Atlanta that she witnessed a lot of police cars outside Dupree’s home on Monday, adding that she has known him since they were in elementary school.
“He was really into LEGOs and video games a lot. He was kindof antisocial, but besides that he was overall really a nice kid,” Christina Sovin told FOX5.
Etowah High School’s principal, Robert Horn, said in a letter to parents there are no other suspects, and “no active threat” against the school at this time.
“Immediate action and investigation began, and, as a result, two students are currently in custody,” Horn wrote.
Parents at the school said the alleged plot is “terrifying,” Fox5 reported.
“It’s surreal,” Blossom Lewis told FOX5. “I’m glad they at least stopped them and they didn’t take it to the next level.”