CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Cherokee County's sheriff said a detective is offering a sobering description of the alleged plot by two high school students making threats toward their high school.
"He indicated this would have been a Columbine type incident in his opinion," Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynold said.
At a hearing Thursday, a judge ordered Alfred Dupree, 17, and Victoria McCurley, 17, to be held without bond.
Deputies said they got a tip Monday evening and that night, they say they had Dupree in custody and they took McCurley into custody the next day.
One deputy told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot they moved so quickly because many of them have kids in school too.
Elliot was there Thursday morning as McCurley entered the small, sealed off courtroom to face attempted murder, attempted arson and terroristic threat charges.
A judge ordered her held without bond.
Minutes later, the same judge also ordered Dupree held without bond too.
Both are accused of plotting to kill targeted teachers and students by setting off an incendiary device at Etowah High School.
Deputies said they uncovered the plot after they got a tip.
“The real hero in my opinion is the person who made the initial call on the tip, and we don’t want to disclose that at this time, but to me, that person is a hero,” Reynolds told Elliot.
Hundreds of thousands of people on social media saw Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley get emotional when talking about the arrests Wednesday.
“We take this very seriously. We don’t want anything to … I can’t even do this right now,” Kelley said, trying to hold back tears as she gave a media briefing about the incident.
She told Elliot the reaction was because she has two children in the school district as well. So does the sheriff and other deputies.
She spoke with Elliot one-on-one Thursday about just how urgent law enforcement officers act, especially when children are at risk.
“It can be hard when we start dealing with kids. It does, we all have kids here. Most of the people, the deputies have kids, have families, and we all want to be able to go home to our families every day,” Kelley said. “We want the families in our community to be able to go home to their own children every day.”
The sheriff wouldn’t get specific about what the incendiary device, only that it was similar to a Molotov cocktail.
Elliot learned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation turned over all that evidence to the FBI for testing.
On Monday, deputies made contact with Dupree, a student at the high school, and his family after receiving a tip from someone who had claimed to have seen a physical journal of his that contained threatening language.
Investigators were then led to McCurley after reading Dupree's journal, where he made "concerning statements," Kelley said. The statements made did not indicate when the attack would occur, only what their intentions were.
Investigators found an incendiary device at McCurley's home in Woodstock after executing search warrants there and at Dupree's home, authorities said. The device was described as substances that could have detonated had they been mixed together, Kelley said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently testing those chemicals, she said.
It is unclear if McCurley made any threatening statements herself, McCurley said.
Both teens have been charged with three counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, four counts of terroristic threats and acts, criminal attempt to commit arson and possession and/or transportation of destructive device/explosive with intent to kill, injure or destroy any public building.
© 2020 Cox Media Group