Chilling Details of Waseca Student's Plot to Bomb School

Updated: 05/01/2014 11:17 PM
Created: 05/01/2014 11:03 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A teenage high school student faces attempted murder charges after police say he was ready and able to pull off a deadly attack on his classmates.

Authorities say 17-year-old John LaDue was extremely well prepared, and had researched past mass killings.

His goal was to attack on April 20th, the anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School, but thanks to this year's calendar, the 20th fell on a Sunday.

So while his plan was delayed, police say he was ready to kill in a matter of days.

"We believe LaDue planned to carry out his attack in the next few weeks,” said Cpt. Kris Markeson of the Waseca Police Department.

On Tuesday night, Waseca police received a report of a suspicious person entering a storage unit on the south side of town and closing the door behind him.

When they arrived at the unit, they found 17-year-old LaDue and a variety of bomb making equipment.

"He did tell us that if he had had a firearm with him, that he would have shot at the officers that responded to the storage unit,” Cpt. Markeson said.

LaDue also told police he had an SKS assault rifle, 400 rounds of ammunition, and multiple handguns back in his room.

There police also found a 180-page notebook locked in his guitar case, that contained extensive details about his plans.

The first journal entry was dated July 24th, 2013, and in subsequent entries, LaDue referenced mass shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook Elementary, critiquing their strategies and what he thought they did right and wrong.

His own plans were laid out in extensive detail, with entries chronicling his experiments with different bomb materials.

“LaDue also admitted to setting off the explosives at the Hartley [Elementary] school in March, 2014,” Cpt. Markeson said. “He indicated they were done to experiment for his larger plot at the Waseca Junior/Senior High School."

LaDue’s journal also documented reconnaissance trips he made to the school and his attempts to acquire yet more weapons and ammunition.

His final plan appeared to be set from the very beginning.

"LaDue revealed his plan was to kill his family members, start a diversionary fire in rural Waseca to distract first responders, and travel to the Waseca Junior/Senior High School,” Cpt. Markeson said.

Once at the high school, LaDue first planned to set off a number of explosives.

Authorities said LaDue had been working on pressure cooker bombs, among others, devices very similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

With those explosions causing chaos in the building, LaDue then planned to kill the school's liaison officer and continue starting fires and setting off explosions, saying he planned to shoot students as they tried to escape.

Students and school administrators alike said they were deeply disturbed by the allegations and vowed to work harder to prevent them in the future.

"These kinds of events that have been happening in our schools across the country should be a warning sign to us all,” said Thomas Lee, superintendent of Waseca Public Schools. “These events are like canaries in the mines, an indicator that something deeply is wrong inside our culture."

Authorities said they don't believe LaDue was working with anyone else, and at this point they couldn’t say what his motive was.

LaDue now faces four counts of first degree attempted murder, and eight other counts of criminal damage and possession of explosives.

LaDue was sent to the most secure facility in the state after making threats to kill an intake counselor at a facility in Rochester.

As for the district, officials said they’ve beefed up security at the school and searched for any possible explosives.

We are still working to learn more about John LaDue.

Administrators said he was quiet, had good grades, and never caused any problems in school, adding that school officials reached out to him repeatedly, trying to make a connection.

A fellow student said he never would have expected LaDue was capable of anything like this.

"He was very reserved, quiet kid, never came off as mean or rude,” said Jack Pribble, a senior at the high school. “He kept to himself, but he never seemed mean to people. He seemed like a nice person."

We will learn more about the suspect and the investigation in the coming days and weeks.

Count on ABC 6 News to bring you any developments with this story.

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