GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA: A teenage girl who had plotted to kill and butcher Black churchgoers in a knife attack has pleaded guilty. The girl, 17, had paraphernalia which idolized gunman Dylann Roof in her schoolbag. The girl has not been identified and had said that she had wanted to attack churchgoers with a knife at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Gainesville, Georgia.
The young girl had been sentenced on Thursday, October 22, in order to remain at a juvenile detention center until her 21st birthday, as part of a negotiated sentence, NBC News has revealed. The sentence received by the teenager is the maximum possible sentence after her classmates had alerted school counselors about the teen’s plans.
The classmates had discovered notebooks which went into detail about her devious plans in November last year. According to WXIA, the girl will start 10 years of probation during which she will not be allowed to come near the church which is located around 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.
The teen’s plans were outed to the police after a classmate heard about it and called the police. The Gainesville Police Department issued a press release on November 19, last year, where they said, “Gainesville High School Resource Officers were notified by school administration of a White female juvenile’s plans to cause harm to multiple people of a local church.”
“Students confided in school counselors regarding a juvenile’s notebook with detailed plans to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville,” the press release continued. The police investigation found that the girl had chosen to target the church “based on the racial demographic of the church members.” She was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder. According to prosecutors, the teenager had written out her plans in a notebook and a search of her bag had found two knives and t-shirts. One of the t-shirts read ‘free Dylann Storm Roof’ and had a swastika drawn on the arms.
The shirts also had messages on the back some of which read, “I’m not crazy I had to do this” and “I do consider myself a white supremacist.” Dylann Roof had been 21 years old when he had killed 9 Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.
Bishop Reginald Jackson spoke to reporters and said that the teenager had been inspired by Roof. “Idealizing him and sharing the same ideology, she plotted to accomplish the same at Bethel church in Gainesville,” Jackson revealed. Bethel AME Church’s pastor, Rev. Michel Rizer-Pool spoke to the court and said that many in her congregation had become anxious since the attack had been discovered.
Judge Allison Toller did commend the teenager for her behavior in custody so far and said, “I appreciate how much you have worked on yourself. From all accounts, it appears that you have welcomed the assistance that you’re getting, that you have taken the opportunity to get your GED and to further yourself and that you have been pleasant and working well with the staff.”
“Through your detention, you have made the best of a very bad circumstance.”