Georgia students may have prevented a possible attack on a Black church after turning in a peer’s notebook to school administrators.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports an unidentified 16-year-old white girl plotted an attack on the majority Black Bethel AME Church in Hall County, Georgia. The details of the attack were kept in a notebook that was brought to the attention of school officials who then went to the police. The girl also began building a knife collection, but it’s not yet been established how she intended to execute the killings.
On Tuesday, Gainesville Police posted a press release stating the girl was in custody.
In the statement posted to Instagram, police said they were notified by Gainesville High School Friday of the student’s detailed plans to kill at the church.
“Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” Police Chief Jay Parrish said in the release. “The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.”
“This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” the chief concluded.
She’s been charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and is currently being held at the Gainesville Regional Youth Center.
The incident is disturbingly reminiscent of the mass shooting carried out by white supremacist Dylann Roof at Charleston, South Carolina’s, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. Nine were killed in the tragedy. Roof was 21 years old at the time and chuckled while confessing to the massacre. The bowl-shaped haircut he wore during the shooting was recently added to the database of hate symbols as fellow white supremacists began wearing the style in camaraderie with Roof. He is now sitting on death row.
The Anti-Defamation League commended local law enforcement for their arrest of a female minor, who reportedly planned to kill parishioners at a predominantly black church in Gainesville, GA because of their race.
“We commend the Gainesville Police Department in stopping what could have been another tragic incident of hate-motivated violence at a house of worship,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL Southeastern Regional Director. “This disturbing incident is a stark reminder that Georgia, where people of color are the most frequent target of hate crimes, remains one of only five states without a hate crime law. It’s high time for our State to stand up against bigotry and bias by enacting a hate crime law,” said Padilla-Goodman.
Students at Gainesville High School alerted school officials that a classmate allegedly had a “notebook with detailed plans to commit murder” at the church. School officials alerted the Gainesville Police Department. Its diligent investigation resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old girl, who according to Police Chief Jay Parrish targeted the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church based on the racial demographic of the church members.