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Bombs in teen bedroom: How Columbine copycat plot was foiled (+video)

Bombs in teen bedroom were for a Columbine-style attack against an Oregon school, a prosecutor says. But the plot was foiled in the same way many such plots are uncovered.

By Staff writer / May 26, 2013



A 17-year-old student in Albany, Ore., built several bombs and had a detailed plan – including checklists and diagrams – as part of a Columbine-style plot to attack West Albany High School, a local prosecutor says.

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Staff writer

Mark is deputy national news editor for the Monitor.

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No motive has yet been made public, but Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said authorities on Friday found six kinds of explosives – including napalm bombs, pipe bombs, drain-cleaner bombs, and Molotov cocktails – in "a secret compartment that had been created in the floorboards" of the teen's bedroom. The teen, Grant Acord, sought make his attack bigger than Columbine, Mr. Haroldson said.

The alleged plot is just the latest example of how the Columbine massacre continues shape school safety 14 years later.

Not only does the plot suggest that would-be attackers continue to draw inspiration from Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., before committing suicide on April 20, 1999. But it also points to how such plots have been repeatedly foiled.

Authorities say they received a tip. Albany police became suspicious after they "received information that associated ... Acord with manufacturing a destructive device with the intent of detonating it at a school," Haroldson said, according to a CNN report

With students more alert for signs of potential attacks post-Columbine, tips have been crucial to preventing more Columbines.

  • In 2001, A suspicious note passed along by a friend led police in Elmira, N.Y., to find a high-school senior in the cafeteria with a pistol, 18 bombs, and a sawed-off shotgun, according to media reports.
  • Three years later, a tip about an Internet chat in which a student said he was planning to attack his school led to a stash of found stolen weapons, an AK-47, and Nazi literature in the student's house in Clinton Township, Mich., reports say.
  • Tips also led to the discovery of Columbine-style plots in Tampa, Fla., in 2011, and in Utah last year.

In the Utah case, the suspect actually went so far as to visit Columbine High School and interview the principal.

“To go as far as to interview the principal and physically go there … sends a message that they were extremely committed to doing something,” Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland told the Monitor at the time.

In Oregon, Grant will be charged as an adult with aggravated murder, Haroldson said. He will also face charges related to bombmaking.

“This was a very methodical process,” said Haroldson, according to a report in The Oregonian. “He took time to even get to this point.”

The evidence gathered by police, which includes "diagrams, checklists, a plan to use explosive devices, and firearms to carry out a plan specifically modeled after the Columbine shootings" shows "intent and plans to carry out a deadly assault on a target-rich environment," he said.

Haroldson did not say when Grant planned to carry out the attack, according to ABC, but added: "I can't say enough about how lucky we are that there was an intervention. When I look at the evidence in the case, I shudder to think of what could have happened here."

Grant was arrested at his home Thursday.

Police say they have searched the school and found no devices, though a Reuters report said they are following up the initial search more thoroughly to make sure students can return to school after the Memorial Day vacation.

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