Attack thwarted after knives, hit list found in high school student's backpack

Attack thwarted after knives, hit list found in high school student's backpack

High school students carrying backpacks walk to class. North Carolina authorities said they prevented a school attack when they discovered dangerous items, including knives, a hit list and a bottle of flammable liquid in a student’s backpack.

UNION COUNTY, North Carolina — North Carolina authorities discovered several knives, a bottle of flammable liquid, fireworks, a dismantled shotgun shell and a “hit list” inside a Charlotte-area student’s book bag on Tuesday.

Authorities found out about the threat at Forest Hills High School in Union County that indicated a student intended to attack several classmates, and the "hit list" contained the names of nine to 12 people.

The suspect is under 16 years old, so police have not released his identity.

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“He certainly had the tools necessary to carry out what he was intending to do,” said Tony Underwood with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's Information Sharing and Analysis Center Unit received information from a Canadian law enforcement agency about chat room discussions involving threats of violence by a Forest Hills High School student.

Deputy A.J. Wallace was the school resource officer who arrested the teen. He took the student out of class, questioned him and then arrested him.

Investigators said the teen wasn't looking for attention and thought he was having a private conversation when he told someone in the chat room that he was going to stab classmates.

Sheriff Eddie Cathey applauded the quick work of deputies and Union County Public Schools officials in averting a possible mass casualty event.

“Who knows who was on that list that the person made? It could have been me, it could have been my closest friend,” said junior Malik Huntley.

Students were greeted by a deputy Wednesday morning as they arrived at school.

The mother of a freshman at the school said she's been told all the students on the hit list were in her son's grade.

"That's the scary thing too, nobody at this point knows why, why he picked out the students that he chose," she said.

Deputies said that the attack was scheduled for mid-morning, and that they believe the incident is isolated and not related to terrorism, but don't know the motive yet.

Investigators said they're still trying to figure out what the teen will be charged with. While deputies wouldn't say where he currently is, they said he is getting help.

“The deputies and specifically the School Resource Officer, along with Union County Public Schools did an outstanding job of quickly identifying the student involved with the chat room discussions and finding the weapons before a tragedy happened,” Cathey said. “I also need to thank the SBI and ISAAC for bringing this matter to our attention as quickly as they did.”

Union County Schools released a statement:

"Keeping students safe is always a priority for Union County Public Schools. We are thankful for our partnership with the Union County Sheriff's Office and want to commend deputies for their immediate response to this matter. We take every threat seriously and staff will continue to work to keep all schools safe. All families at Forest Hills High School have been notified."