2 students charged in plot to bomb Utah high school
A student tipped off officials about a plot to blow up a Utah high school, and police arrested and charged two students.
The Associated Press
ROY, Utah — The two students had a detailed plot, blueprints of the school and security systems, but no explosives. They had hours of flight-simulator training on a home computer and a plan to flee the country, but no plane.
Still, the police chief said, the plot was real.
"It wasn't like they were hanging out playing video games," Roy Police Chief Gregory Whinham said Friday. "They put a lot of effort into it."
Dallin Morgan, 18, and a 16-year-old friend were arrested Wednesday at Roy High School, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, after a fellow student told school officials she received ominous text messages from one of the suspects.
"If I tell you one day not to go to school, make damn sure you and your brother are not there," one message read, according to court records. "We ain't gonna crash it, we're just gonna kill and fly our way to a country that won't send us back to the U.S.," read another message.
School officials contacted police.
While police don't have a motive, one text message noted they sought "revenge on the world."
The suspects say they were inspired by the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., and the younger suspect visited the school last month to interview the principal about the shootings and security measures.
Whinham said the "very smart kids" had spent at least hundreds of dollars on flight-simulator programs, books and manuals, studying them in anticipation of carrying out their plan to bomb an assembly at the 1,500-student high school.
While authorities said the suspects believed they could pull it off, experts said, it would have been a longshot.
Royal Eccles, manager at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport, about a mile from the school, said it would have been nearly impossible for the students to steal a plane or get the knowledge to fly one using flight-simulator programs.
While authorities said they had not found any explosives, they charged Morgan on Friday with possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
The basis for the charge wasn't immediately clear. Prosecutors said they are considering additional charges.
Morgan was released on bond, pending a court hearing Wednesday. The 16-year-old, whom The Associated Press isn't naming because he's a minor, was held pending further hearings.
In Colorado, Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis confirmed he met with the 16-year-old Dec. 12 after the teen told him he was doing a story for his school newspaper on the shootings.
DeAngelis said he frequently gets requests from students doing research on the shootings. "He asked the same questions I get from many callers and visitors," DeAngelis said. He said the student wanted details about the shooting, the aftermath and the steps taken since then to protect the school.
DeAngelis said he was shocked when he got a call from Utah police on Wednesday asking if he had met with the youngster. He said the interview raised no red flags but that he would do things differently in the future.
"This was definitely a wake-up call," DeAngelis said.