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Utah student arrested after planning event 'like Columbine,' police say

A 15-year-old girl has been arrested after police say she claimed she was making explosives and planning a mass casualty incident against Weber High School. Police intervened and the school said no one was in any danger.

A 15-year-old girl has been arrested after police say she claimed she was making explosives and planning a mass casualty incident against Weber High School. Police intervened and the school said no one was in any danger. (Kristin Murphy)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

HUNTSVILLE, Weber County — A 15-year-old girl has been arrested after police say she claimed she was making explosives and planning a mass casualty incident against her school.

The Weber High student was charged Sept. 30 in 2nd District Juvenile Court with use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony, according to court documents obtained by KSL.com through an open records request.

The investigation began Sept. 23 when Weber County sheriff's deputies received a report of messages from an Instagram account "containing terroristic threats including the act of committing a mass school shooting," according to several search warrant affidavits.

The FBI had acquired the messages and contacted the sheriff's office when learning the account allegedly belonged to a person in Weber County. The messages "referenced acquiring firearms, and described the act that she was about to perform 'Like Columbine,' referring to the infamous terrorist event which occurred at Columbine High School," the warrant says.

The messages claimed the girl intended to shoot multiple people.

Police responded to the girl's home and she admitted to sending the messages to people she met online. Investigators then seized the girl's phone to search.

"On the device I saw a Google search containing photos of surveillance footage of a school shooter," the investigating deputy wrote in the affidavit. Detectives also found text messages in which she talked about her plans to "'shoot up' Weber," and that "this shooting will be her way to 'make my mark on society.'"

In other messages, the girl talked about getting napalm on her shirt, and later discussed that her alleged terror attack was being planned for April of 2024, the affidavit states.

In her diary app — which had a passcode of "2024" — detectives found messages "which documented her decisions such as pros and cons of potential co-conspirators and the following statement: 'I need guns. And I need bullets. And I need alcohol. And I need bombs ... And I need to kill all of these (people),'" according to the warrant.

When detectives searched the photos and videos saved on the girl's phone, they found a video of the girl "manufacturing napalm in the driveway of her home," the warrant states. The girl had a blue substance on her shirt that she claimed in the video was napalm, and then lit the substance on fire.

"While searching the device further, in a diary entry on the diary application (the girl) stated that she had made napalm, and that it was being contained in a shed until she could attempt lighting it," according to the warrant.

Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Cortney Ryan said Tuesday that investigators searched the shed and the girl's home but did not find any napalm, though they believe she did have some at one time. He credited deputies for working "through the night for a couple of nights" to resolve the case and make sure "kids were safe."

"When we get a threat or a report, we take it very seriously," he said.

The girl was booked into juvenile detention where Ryan said he hopes she will get any needed help.

A letter from Weber High School sent Tuesday afternoon told parents about the student's plan, but said it could not provide details.

"The threat involved some planning on the part of the student, but there was never an imminent danger to the school or other students," the letter says. "Fortunately, early intervention and action by law enforcement foiled any potential acts of violence."

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