A 16-year-old white girl is accused of plotting to massacre black churchgoers at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Georgia. Police began investigating the threat after her classmates at Gainesville High School alerted administrators that she had a notebook detailing her plans to kill members of the church because of their race.
The girl, who has not been identified due to her age, was taken into custody and has been charged with criminal attempt to commit murder. She is currently being held in a youth detention center in Gainesville. Officials credited the students who reported her with preventing a "potentially horrific incident."
The notebook contained detailed plans for her attack and read like a manifesto.
“There were many writings and drawings, different depictions, and a lot of hateful messages in it,” Sgt. Kevin Holbrook of the Gainesville Police Department told The Washington Post. “As far as the details go, they were down to very specific information.”
Police said that the girl went to the church earlier in the month, but the building was empty. They are not sure if she planned to attack the church at that time, or if she was just scouting it out.
Bishop Reginald Jackson, the presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, said that the girl was inspired by the 25-year-old white supremacist who murdered congregants at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, four years ago.
"Idealizing him and sharing the same ideology, she plotted to accomplish the same at Bethel church in Gainesville," Jackson said. "This incident raises very serious issues and also raises questions that need to be answered."
The FBI is helping with the investigation, though it is unlikely the teen will face federal charges because she is a minor.
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