Five students were arrested on Thursday after officials discovered plots to repeat a Columbine style massacre in their school after a threatening message was posted by one of the boys on myspace.com.
Police discovered a stockpile of guns, knives and messages talking of armageddon in the suspects homes and school-lockers after the arrests were made.
Early interviews with the suspects has unveiled that their intention was to perform the attack on Thursday during the lunch hour wearing black trench coats, what would have been a copycat scenario to the Columbine massacre. The suspects had apparently been planning the attack since the beginning of the year, and even planned to turn off all the schools security systems before the killing began.
However disaster was averted when one of the suspects posted threats onto the Myspace website. Sheriff Norman said this about the situation:
"The message, it was brief, but it stated that there was going to be a shooting at the Riverton School and that people should wear bullet-proof vests and flak jackets."
Despite the message being posted on Tuesday it wasn’t until Wednesday that the seriousness of the attack was made clear. A woman living in North Carolina who had been talking to the students involved was told that there would be 12 victims including one teacher. Concerned, she contacted the authorities who were able to make the arrests.
The sheriff, in an attempt to explain the actions of the boys described them as being the subject of name calling at school and that their likely targets were popular students. He also added that the boys were ‘computer buffs’ who enjoyed playing violent games – unfortunately it seems this is increasingly becoming a pre-requisite to all violence in schools as ethical issues of gaming
are brought into the limelight once more.
It is unclear whether the boys, all aged 16-18, will be judged as adults or minors at this time. What is clear is that had it not been for myspace.com this tragic event may not have been averted. The social-networking hub has declined to comment whilst the investigation is ongoing.