If it weren’t for a concerned Minnesota citizen reporting a suspicious teen at a storage unit in rural Waseca, a teenage boy might have carried out the most deadly school attack in U.S. history.
Police arrested 17-year-old John David LaDue when they found him in a storage unit that contained homemade bombs.
LaDue allegedly told police his plan to kill his parents, his sister, a school resource officer and then as many students as he could at Waseca Junior and Senior High School.
Inside the storage unit, there were ammunition boxes, pyrotechnic chemicals, a pressure-cooker, steel ball bearings, gunpowder, remote firing systems, buckshot and a ski mask, Waseca police said in a statement. He had at least six bombs completed.
Initially held at a juvenile detention center, LaDue was moved after he made homicidal threats to facility staffer, according to WZZM 13.
"This case is a classic example of citizens doing the right thing in calling the police when things seem out of place. By doing the right thing, (an) unimaginable tragedy has been prevented,” said Waseca Police Capt. Kris Markeson.
At LaDue's home the police found a variety of guns, including a Beretta 9-mm and an SKS assault rifle, with 400 rounds of ammo. It is unclear whether the teen is the owner of these weapons.
His plan was to kill his family with a .22-caliber rifle and then set a fire in a rural field to distract first responders. He would proceed to the school where he would kill the resource officer. He planned to throw Molotov cocktails and set off pressure-cooker bombs to kill students during lunchtime.
He was allegedly prepared to be gunned down by a SWAT team.
The school has about 1,000 students in grades 7 to 12.
The teen’s guitar teacher of four years said he couldn’t imagine LaDue would plot such a horrific attack.
"I taught him guitar, met him when he was 13 years old," Ryan Lano told WZZM 13.
He said LaDue is a talented guitarist and a model student, but the only thing they ever talked about was playing guitar.
"Only adjective I can come up with is I'm shocked at the information, this is new to me," Lano said.
Teachers described LaDue as shy, and the superintendent, Thomas Lee, said he wasn't considered a problem student.
"It's not like he was unknown to us,” said Waseca Schools Superintendent Tom Lee. "He was known. People made lots of contact with him. We tried to do everything we possibly could do to build relationships with him as well. But sometimes even when you're trying to do everything possible it doesn't turn out the way you want it to."