A white teenager in Georgia was arrested after her “detailed plans” to kill Black churchgoers was revealed by her classmates.
The 16-year-old girl was charged with attempt to commit murder, police in northern Georgia said Tuesday (Nov. 19), The Washington Post reports.
According to police, her fellow classmates at Gainesville High School told administrators on Friday (Nov. 15) that she had a notebook filled with “detailed plans” to kill members of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville. After school officials investigated the matter, they immediately turned it over to authorities, The Washington Post reports.
Sgt. Kevin Holbrook described the alleged plot as “definitely racially motivated” and said it contained language of a “manifesto-type” discussing her intended assault on Black parishioners with butcher knives and other sharp-edged weapons, The Washington Post reports.
“There were many writings and drawings, different depictions, and a lot of hateful messages in it,” Holbrook told The Washington Post. “As far as the details go, they were down to very specific information.”
The teen was taken into custody while she was at school and officers notified her parents, The Washington Post reports.
“As a school system that celebrates our diversity, we are beyond stunned with the recent development,” Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams told CNN. “However, we are extremely proud of our students notifying school administration of a possible off-campus threat.”
According to police, they also notified church leaders and provided security at the building, The Washington Post reports.
Not only did the girl research African-American churches online and chose Bethel AME Church because it’s small, but she also allegedly visited the church earlier this month to possibly carry out the attack, but the building was empty, according to police, The Washington Post reports.
“By pure grace, the church did not have service that evening,” Holbrook told The Washington Post. “We were very fortunate here.”
The teenager, whose name has not been released, is currently being held in the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville. It is unlikely federal charges will be brought against her because she is a minor, The Washington Post reports.
“While we are very concerned about this incident, we are not surprised,” Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, head of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday (Nov. 19).
Jackson added, “Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have been on the rise for many years, but it is unfortunate we cannot have this perpetrator prosecuted on hate crimes in Georgia because there is no law on the books to address it.”
It’s believed the girl was acting alone and no other churches were in danger, according to police, The Washington Post reports.
“We are thankful to God that this plot was stopped before anybody was either killed or injured,” Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, adding that he wants to see her tried as an adult. “To plan this kind of event is not that of a childish mind.”