ROY, Utah – The two teens had a detailed plot, blueprints of the school and security systems, but no explosives. They had hours of flight simulator training on a computer and a plan to flee the country, but no plane.
Still, the police chief in this small Utah town said, the plot was real.
“It wasn’t like they were hanging out playing video games,” Roy Police Chief Gregory Whinham said Friday. “They put a lot of effort into it.”
Dallin Morgan, 18, and a 16-year-old friend were arrested Wednesday at Roy High School, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, after a fellow student reported that she received ominous text messages from one of the suspects.
“If I tell you one day not to go to school, make damn sure you and your brother are not there,” one message read, according to court records.
While police don’t have a motive, one text message noted they sought “revenge on the world.”
The suspects say they were inspired by the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., and the younger suspect even visited the school last month to interview the principal about the shootings and security.
However, one suspect told authorities it was offensive to be compared to the Columbine shooters because “those killers only completed 1 percent of their plan,” according to a probable cause statement.
The teens had so studied their school’s security system that they knew how to avoid being seen on the surveillance cameras, authorities said.
Whinham said the “very smart kids” had spent at least hundreds of dollars on flight simulator programs, books and manuals, studying them in anticipation of carrying out their plan to bomb an assembly at the 1,500-student high school.
Authorities said the suspects believed they could pull it off. But Royal Eccles, manager at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport, about a mile from the school, said it would have been nearly impossible for the students to steal a plane or get the knowledge to fly one using flight simulator programs.
Whinham said authorities searched two homes and two cars and found no explosives, but continue to search other locations.
“I wouldn’t want to say that they don’t have it or that they weren’t ready for it,” he said. “I’m just saying that we haven’t found anything that says they were ready for it yet.”