Two juveniles who confessed to a chilling, Columbine-like plan to massacre Quartz Hill High School students on Valentine’s Day 2006 have been arrested, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said Friday.
The two Lancaster teens are former Quartz Hill High students who had been transferred to other schools for disciplinary reasons. They told deputies they intended to kill students, particularly those who had made fun of them, with guns and homemade explosives, then commit suicide.
Deputies said a 17-year-old student at Littlerock High and a 15-year-old who attends Desert Sands Charter School had practiced detonating explosives in the high desert and were trying to get an adult to obtain guns for them from a pawnshop.
“I’ve been working with schools for eight years, and we have hoaxes all the time, but this is the first time that I thought, ‘Oops, this one could really happen,’ ” said Sgt. Darrel Brown of the Lancaster sheriff’s station. “You could see they were preparing meticulously, taking things step by step.”
The teenagers described themselves as goths, deputies said. They commonly wore black trench coats, in apparent imitation of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who carried out the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado. The 15-year-old had the word “hate” carved into his forearm, deputies said.
Searches of their homes turned up knives, live ammunition, a gas mask, carbon dioxide canisters, hate literature and a large amount of printed instructions on bomb-making downloaded from the Internet. Authorities also found photographs of Harris, Klebold, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVey, cult leader Charles Manson and assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
One of the juveniles showed deputies a finger wound he’d received when a homemade pipe bomb packed with screws detonated.
The pair had picked Valentine’s Day to carry out their plans, Brown said, because they were inspired by punk rocker Marilyn Manson’s song of the same name.
The alleged plot came to light Wednesday when a Quartz Hill High student told school officials she had heard about it secondhand.
The teens, arrested Thursday, are being held at the Sylmar Juvenile Detention Center in Sylmar on charges of making terrorist threats.
Brown said they also will be charged Monday with conspiracy to commit murder.