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4/13/2006

 
   

Teens charged with making threats
R-3 students allegedly talked of shooting faculty, students

Trevor P. Fattig
Sean A. Amos

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Two Platte County High School students face felony charges of making terroristic threats for allegedly telling classmates they planned to carry out a Columbine-style shooting at the high school in Platte City.

Class D felony charges were filed on Monday against Trevor P. Fattig and Sean M. Amos, both age 17 and both of Platte City. Prosecutors say Fattig and Amos told schoolmates they intended to use guns and explosives in an assault on the school. Authorities allege the teens said they would carry out the violence on April 20, which is the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in unincorporated Jefferson County Colorado near Denver.

The teenagers' alleged plot for a day of violence, according to court papers filed by prosecutors, include a plan to shoot the assistant principal at the high school. Fattig and Amos allegedly told five witnesses not to attend school on that day because they were going to bring an "AK-47" and a "magnum" to school.

The plan allegedly called for holding the assistant principal at gunpoint while he made an announcement for everyone to report to the gymnasium. The teens told classmates they would have explosives planted in the gym. Once everyone was in the gym, the alleged plot would consist of shooting the assistant principal and opening fire on students and faculty.

"The defendant(s) stated to witnesses that they were going to conduct this act of violence because there had not been one in a while and to mark the anniversary of Columbine," Platte City Police Detective Beth Willoughby said in a statement of probably cause filed with the court.

Authorities say they can't be certain Fattig and Amos truly intended to carry out the threats, but simply making the threats is enough to warrant the felony charges.

"In today's world, we simply must treat threats to carry out school violence very seriously," Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said this week.

As exclusively reported in last week's issue of The Landmark, Platte City Police and the Platte County Sheriff's Department had been investigating the threats for several days. Police presented their case to prosecutors last Friday.

After their arrests, bond for each was set at $15,000 cash-only. Both remained in custody as of late Tuesday.

Judge James Van Amburg entered pleas of not guilty for the suspects. The pair will be in court on May 2 at 9 a.m. for a docket call in front of Judge Van Amburg.

Authorities reported searching the home of at least one of the suspects and found no evidence of weapons or explosives. A search of the home of the other suspect is "likely," authorities reported.

If convicted, Fattig and Amos face a maximum of four years in prison for making the threats.

Court documents indicate that in January of this year in a counseling session with the Platte County R-3 School District social worker, Fattig drew a CD cover depicting a school shooting as his "expression of life.”

Det. Willoughby, in court papers, says Fattig admitted to her and to Det. Pete Edlund of the sheriff's department that he has "violent thoughts" all day.

Court papers also indicate that Platte County R-3 School administration has reported students and parents have expressed concern about attending or allowing students to attend school on Thursday, April 20. That date marks a very important time for the school district due to the administration of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which affects the accreditation of the school district.

It should be noted the high school subsequently delayed MAP testing this week, but not due to the threats of violence. The testing was delayed due to the death of R-3 student David Scheetz, who will be buried Thursday. Scheetz was killed in a car accident over the weekend (see separate story).

This is the second straight year threats at the high school have been targeted during MAP testing week. Last April, the middle school and high school were evacuated after a threat of an explosive device was phoned into the high school. Area law enforcement agencies with specially trained dogs conducted a thorough search of the interior and exterior of the building. The search took 90 minutes as staff and students were evacuated to the baseball fields and football stadium.

Police at the time believed they had solid leads in that case but no charges were ever filed.