Hall County

Teen who plotted massacre at Black church says ‘it was a mistake’

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — A Gainesville teenager who planned to kill members of a Black church cried as she apologized in court Thursday.

Church leaders told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas while they’re still worried about a copycat, they are forgiving her.

Caitlyn Pye, 17, held her notes tightly and cried as she spoke to the judge and members of the Gainesville church she planned to attack.

“I am very sorry. I want to let you know it was a mistake,” Pye told the court.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the teenager pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault and was sentenced to 10 years probation. She will be in juvenile detention until she’s 21.

“For some, it’s hard to put our minds around the fact about what could have happened,” said the Rev. Dr. Michelle Rizer-Pool of Gainesville’s Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.


The bishop who supervises AME churches in Georgia said he and his congregations forgive Pye for what she planned.

Last November, Pye went to Bethel AME Church in Gainesville with two knives planning to murder church members during Bible study. The studies had been canceled both times.

Prosecutors say they also found writings supporting Dylan Roof, who killed nine members of a Charleston AME church.

Pye’s mother insisted she didn’t learn hate at home.

“She is not a racist. She’s never been taught racism or hate,” the teen’s mother told the court Thursday.

“What happened here today is something that should have the conscience of the nation on it,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson of the AME 6th Episcopal District of Georgia.

The pastor told Thomas that church attendance is still down as members continue to look over their shoulders fearing what’s next or even the motives of visitors to their small church.

There is still extra security including surveillance cameras at the church — constant reminders of what could have been.