Left: A student stands outside Riverton HS, courtesy of AP
(Riverton, KS) Five teens intended to go on a shooting spree at their high school but were prevented from carrying out the plot after one of the group discussed the plot on a Web site, according to law enforcement and school officials.
One of the arrested students had posted a message on his MySpace account in which he talked about the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth as well as the Columbine shootings, both of which share an April 20 date.
Police found guns, ammunition, knives and coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect, while discovering documents about firearms and references to Armageddon in the school lockers of two other suspects.
"What the resounding theme is: They were actually going to do this," said Sheriff Steve Norman. "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 bulletproof vests and flak jackets."
Riverton school district Superintendent David Walters said the significance of the threat didn't become clear until Wednesday night. At that point a woman in North Carolina who had chatted with one of the suspects on Myspace.com received more information that there would be about a dozen potential victims, and at least one of those would be a staff member.
The woman notified authorities in her state, who called the local sheriff's department, Norman said.
The sheriff reported that the potential victims were popular students and that the suspects - ages 16-18 - may have been bullied in the past.
"I think there was probably some bullying, name calling, chastising," he said, adding that investigators learned the suspects were computer buffs who liked violent video games.
MySpace.com has pulled the related sites.
Riverton student Michaela Ferneau said Friday was told that she was one of the targets. One of the teen suspects had talked to her about the Columbine massacre in January.
"We thought he was joking because he was always joking about stuff like that," Ferneau told ABC on Friday. "I guess I told on them, apparently, when I didn't know I did. It's kind of scary to know that people from a little town like this would even try anything like that."