Three Waseca police officers found John David LaDue, 17, at the MiniMax Storage Units on Tuesday night, prosecutors said in court papers. A woman in the neighborhood had reported seeing a teenager headed toward the storage facility and behaving oddly.
LaDue, a junior at Waseca Junior/Senior High School, allegedly said when he was questioned that he planned to kill his parents and sister, start a fire somewhere in the countryside outside Waseca to divert emergency workers and then go to the school. He said he wanted "to kill as many students as he could" before he was cut down.
He originally hoped to carry out the massacre on April 20, the 15th anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School in Colorado, investigators said. In that incident, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, took their own lives after killing 12 students and a teacher and injuring 24 people.
Because April 20 this year was Easter Sunday, LaDue postponed his plans, police said.
LaDue's plan allegedly followed that of Harris and Klebold, who left bombs in the high school cafeteria that could have killed hundreds if they had detonated. Harris and Klebold also set off a fire bomb a few miles from the school as a diversion, although it only started a small blaze.
The charges against LaDue, made public Thursday, shook Waseca, a county seat of fewer than 10,000 people 50 miles south of Minneapolis.
“It’s just too scary to put in words,” a woman with children at both the middle and high school told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Everybody in town feels sick to their stomach. Scared. There were tears today.”
Police Capt. Kris Markeson said that LaDue had been making preparations for 10 months including setting off explosives to practice.
LaDue faces four counts of attempted murder, two of damaging property and six of possession of explosives by a juvenile. He was ordered held as a juvenile Thursday.
Police said he told the officers who found him at the storage unit he would have shot them if he had a gun. He was transferred to Red Wing juvenile detention center, Minnesota's most secure, Thursday because of alleged threats against staffers at the center where he had been held.