4 teens accused of plotting 'Columbine-style' school attack

Two of the suspects, both 15, were charged as adults due to "the serious nature of the charges"


By Vandana Ravikumar
The Charlotte Observer

DUNMORE, Pa. — Four students in Pennsylvania were charged with planning a “Columbine-style” attack at Dunmore High School, Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said Friday.

Powell said that the students were planning the attack for April 20, 2024, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, WOLF reported.

This Sept. 2021 photo shows Dunmore High School in Dunmore, Pa. Four teenagers have been charged with a plot to attack a Pennsylvania high school in 2024, on the 25th anniversary of the massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School, authorities said, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.
This Sept. 2021 photo shows Dunmore High School in Dunmore, Pa. Four teenagers have been charged with a plot to attack a Pennsylvania high school in 2024, on the 25th anniversary of the massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School, authorities said, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Jake Danna Stevens/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Powell said in a statement that two of the students, both 15, involved were charged as adults “because of the serious nature of the charges,” according to WOLF. Two other students, whose ages were not disclosed, will face charges as juveniles.

“I want to assure the parents, students and staff at Dunmore High School that we do not believe there is any active threat at this time,” Powell said in the statement.

Dunmore is a town of about 13,000 located 120 miles north of Philadelphia.

The group began planning the attack in May in a group chat called “Natural Born Killers,” where one of the students identified three employees that he planned to kill with another student in the group, according to media reports.

Court documents detailed text messages among the students discussing plans to “shoot up the school,” with one of the students claiming “dibs” on a particular victim, WBRE reported.

The students also talked about how much they “hated” the high school and how they wanted “everything to go down like that,” referring to the Columbine shooting, according to WBRE.

The text messages in detailed students’ plans to use guns and Molotov cocktails for the attack, WBRE reported.

One student told investigators that one of the students involved had made homemade explosives with gun power and carbon dioxide cartridges. He also told investigators that this student had 20 to 30 Molotov cocktails stored under her porch, Morning Call reported.

“She’s gonna do something,” the student said.

Investigators who searched that student’s home found explosives, BB pellets, CO2 cartridges, and notebooks explaining how to make a bomb and details about the Columbine shooting, WBRE said.

The two students charged as adults are facing charges of unlawful possession of weapons of mass destruction, criminal conspiracy, possession of explosives and incendiary materials, aggravated assault, and terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another, Powell said in the statement.

[RELATED: Never doubt yourself: A SWAT cop's lesson learned from Columbine]

Dunmore School District officials responded to the investigation in a statement posted on its website on Friday.

“We have been assured there is no current danger to students or staff,” the statement said.

©2021 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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