A tip from a suspicious neighbor about “odd” behavior by a boy at a self-storage unit in southern Minnesota helped police unravel the boy’s alleged plot to carry out a school massacre.
The tip came via 911 from Chelsie Schellhas of Waseca, MN, according to the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis. Schellhas said she was washing dishes the night of April 29 when she spotted a boy with a backpack and a fast-food bag walking through her backyard to the nearby Mini Max Storage facility.
The boy turned out to be 17-year-old John David LaDue. The teenager was charged May 1 with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property and six counts of possession of a bomb by someone under 18.
‘I Thought It Was Odd’
Schellhas said that when she saw LaDue, he was walking “through the puddles when there was a perfectly good road he could have walked on. It just didn’t seem right to me, because we see people come and go with their trucks, and they don’t come on foot and cut through people’s backyards. It was like he was blatantly trying not to be seen. That’s why I thought it was odd.”
Also odd was that it took LaDue “some time” to open the door to the storage unit, leading Schellhas to think he was breaking in. Before LaDue shut the door, Schellhas spotted trash and Walmart bags in the unit. That also “didn’t look right,” she told the Star Tribune.
Schellhas then called 911. Authorities wound up searching LaDue’s storage unit and home, where they found three fully functional bombs, other bomb-making materials, gunpowder, numerous firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to NBCNews.com.
‘Unimaginable Tragedy’ Prevented
“This case is a classic case of people doing the right things and calling police when things seem out of place,” Waseca Police Capt. Kris Markeson said at a May 1 news conference. “By doing the right thing, unimaginable tragedy has been prevented.”
Waseca Mayor Roy Srp commended Schellhas’ action.
“A citizen did what they should do and what every person in America should do—be vigilant and pay attention to take care of each other and, therefore, I think this is a positive and we avoided a real catastrophe,” Srp said, according to KEYC-TV.
Murders, Fire, Bombing, Shooting Were Planned
Markeson said police think LaDue, an 11th-grader, would have gone through with his alleged plan “within the next few weeks” if Schellhas hadn’t called 911.
According to CNN.com, LaDue allegedly “was going to kill his family, start a diversionary fire, set off bombs at an area school, kill the resource officer there and then shoot students.”
As part of their investigation, police discovered LaDue’s 180-page journal. According to NBCNews.com, journal entries cited the teen’s fascination with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who gunned down 12 students and a teacher 15 years ago last month at Colorado’s Columbine High School. Harris and Klebold ended up killing themselves.
For tips on how you can prevent this sort of activity at your storage facility, read this story on The Storage Facilitator blog.