Prosecutors say two fifth-grade boys at Fort Colville Elementary School in eastern Washington are in custody after school authorities discovered a .45-caliber Remington 1911 semiautomatic handgun and an ammunition clip, and a knife with a 3¼-inch blade, in the possession of one of the students, according to a Feb. 14 Los Angeles Times report. The weapons were reportedly to be used in a murder plot to kill their classmates.
Tim Rasmussen, a Stevens County prosecutor says that boys, aged 10 and 11, are accused of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and scheduled to be in court on Feb. 20 for a determination of their mental capacity to murder, and whether they should be prosecuted in juvenile court. Children younger than 8 are considered incapable of committing criminal acts in Washington state and for those aged 8 to 12, the court holds a hearing to make its determination.
School authorities said the boys planned to use the weapons to lure another student outside the school and kill her “because she was really annoying.” Last week the boys confessed to a plot to harm six additional students at their school. “This was a plan. And it was a plan to kill,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said that the boys should be held criminally responsible on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and witness tampering; the tampering charge was added after authorities said the boys promised to pay $80 to a student if he agreed not to tell anyone about the murder plot.
Public court documents show that the plot was discovered on Feb. 7 when one fourth-grader told a teacher that he had seen another student with a knife. The teacher searched the boy’s backpack and that of his friend, and found both weapons in the 10-year-old’s backpack.
“My background is a high school counselor and psychologist, and quite frankly, in 30-plus years, I never heard of anything like this at this age level,” said Colville School Supt. Mike Cashion, who also said that the school has been promoting a program that encourages students to report suspicious things. It appears to have worked in this instance.
Rasmussen is also shocked.
“To me, 10- and 11-year-olds do bad things,” he said. “They throw rocks through windows. They shoot BB guns at people's cars. They hit people with sticks, they set a cat on fire. Those are things that children do. But this was a plot to kill.”
The boys were subsequently questioned separately and they both admitted to the plot. “I was going to kill her with the knife and [the other boy] was supposed to use the gun to keep anyone from trying to stop me or mess up our plan,” the 11-year-old told detectives. He also identified the six other targeted classmates. He noted that even though he had been friends with his intended target, the girl, for several months, “he hated her now,” adding that the girl “had recently become rude and would pick on him.”
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