Authorities foil plans for mass shooting at Hawkins County high school

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HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two male teenagers were arrested for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and other charges, after they reportedly planned a mass shooting at Volunteer High School in Hawkins County.

Investigators found hand-written journals with detailed plans for the attack. The two teens studied things like when the maximum amount of students would be in the cafeteria and hallways, how to best block the exits and how to eliminate the SRO officer, according to the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office.

Both teens were students at VHS, Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said.

The students had floor plans to the high school. They studied past shootings, like Columbine, to learn from their "mistakes," Lawson said.

The Sheriff's Office learned about the plot in October 2013, after one of the boys' youth counselor found a journal that talked about a mass shooting at VHS. Investigator's searched the boy's home.

"We found several guns, journals, firecrackers, gunpowder," Lawson said.

One of the suspects, who is 15-years-old, planned to carry out the attack during his senior year, Lawson said.

Both of the teens were obsessed with serial killers and the Columbine shooting, he said.

"We discovered videos posted on the Internet of these juveniles, posing with AR-15's, shotguns, Drano-type bombs," Lawson said. "They were also detonating gasoline bombs and Molotov cocktails in the Phipps Bend area of Hawkins County."

People in Hawkins County are still in shock from the news.

"Parents just don't know whether to send their kids to school or keep them at home. I plan on homeschooling mine, just on account of things like this," Daniel Goins said.

Matthew Tart's kids go to VHS. He's still dealing with the realization of what could have happened.

"As a dad, it's killing me," he said. "I love my kids so much. And you try to teach them, and you try to teach them. With everything going on, it's kinda hard."

According to Assistant District Attorney Ryan Blackwell, a detention hearing was held for the two juveniles in Rogersville.

While the names and ages of the juveniles were not released, Blackwell said the two juveniles could be eligible to be transferred to an adult court.

Both teens face charges of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and possession of explosives.

Neither student was enrolled in VHS once the investigation started in October, Lawson said. The Sheriff's office made sure the teens didn't pose a threat to the school or the general public while they conducted the investigation, he said.

One of the teens is out of jail on a $75,000 bond. He remains under house arrest and requires 24-hour adult supervision. The other teen is awaiting his bond hearing. Both remain under state custody.

The Sheriff's Office told Local 8 News Friday afternoon the judge put a gag order on the case until after the trial is completed.

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