Two teens are being charged as adults while the other two are facing juvenile charges after planning to attack Dunmore High School in Pennsylvania on April 20, 2024, authorities say.
Four teenagers in Pennsylvania have been charged for conspiring to attack their high school on the 25th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that left 13 dead.
Two 15-year-olds are being charged as adults while the other two teens are facing juvenile charges in their plan to attack Dunmore High School, outside Scranton, on April 20, 2024, according to Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell.
The teenagers charged as adults have been identified as Alyssa Kucharski and Zavier Lewis. Investigators said that Kucharski’s mother told police that her daughter was “obsessed with Columbine,” according to The Times-Tribune, which first reported the news on Friday.
Powell said Kucharski and Lewis were charged as adults due to the seriousness of their actions and their “level of culpability” in the plot, the newspaper reported.
The two teens charged as juveniles have not been identified.
“While the investigation is ongoing, I want to assure the parents, students and staff at Dunmore High School that we do not believe there is any active threat at this time,” Powell said in a statement Friday. “We are relieved that this plot was uncovered before anyone was hurt and urge anyone who has information about potential threats of school violence to contact police immediately.”
Investigators found text messages in which the students discussed plans to “shoot up the school,” and one specific student calling “dibs” on a victim, according to court records obtained by NBC-affiliated TV news station WBRE in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The students also expressed they “hated” Dunmore High School and wanted “everything to go down like that,” referring to the Columbine mass shooting.
The text messages also revealed that Kucharski had made Molotov cocktails and other homemade explosives.
The mother of one of the teens charged as a juvenile discovered some of the text messages on her child’s cellphone on July 6, investigators said in a criminal complaint. The teen told investigators he didn’t believe the texts represented a serious threat until he saw 20 to 30 Molotov cocktails under the girl’s porch.
Components for bombs, writings on how to make bombs, and handwritten lists of guns, ammunition and tactical gear complete with prices were found at Kucharski’s home in addition to a Molotov cocktail, investigators said in a criminal complaint.
Corey Eagen, the girl’s attorney, could not be reached by phone on Saturday for comment. The Times-Tribune reported on Friday that Eagen declined to comment. An attorney is not listed for the other teen charged as an adult.
Both teens were arraigned by video conference on Friday afternoon. They were charged with unlawful possession of weapons of mass destruction, terroristic threats, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and possessing explosive material. Kucharski is also charged with “risking catastrophe” by storing explosive devices at her home.
Both teens are being held without bail until they complete court-ordered evaluations.
Kucharski and Lewis are being held at the Northampton County Juvenile Justice Center, The Times-Tribune reported.
Dunmore schools Superintendent John Marichak said in a statement Friday that authorities assured school officials there was “no current danger to students or staff” since the “alleged perpetrators are in custody.”
Principal Timothy Hopkins, who was one of the officials targeted by the students, said he knows the two teens charged as adults and described them as quiet children who weren’t troublemakers. He said he had no idea why they would seek to harm him, other than his position as principal.
“It’s a little bit disturbing to find out something like that was being plotted,” he told the Times-Tribune.
Preliminary hearings are for both Kucharski and Lewis are scheduled for Oct. 4.