A middle school student who allegedly confronted a girl with a knife has become one of the youngest Americans ever charged with terrorism.
Late Monday, Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas officially charged the 14-year-old boy from Mesa, Ariz., with terrorism, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and carrying weapons on a school campus.
The alleged crimes took place two weeks ago when police say the boy, who is an eighth grader at Powell Junior High School, approached a girl with a knife as she walked home from school. The girl escaped and called police. When the boy failed to show up at school the next day, police visited his home.
They found a backpack full of weapons including a handgun and ammo, chains, and rope. Police said they want the boy to be tried as an adult.
The charge of terrorism includes "substantial interruption of a public facility or establishment with a deadly weapon," according to the county attorney's office.
Mesa Police say the youth admitted to planning to take his class hostage. The boy told police that he intended to kill the girl, whom he singled out at random, police spokeswoman Holly Hosac said.
"From all indications, he was a good student and had never been in any trouble before," Hosac told the Arizona Republic newspaper. "His parents are beside themselves."
County officials said the boy had plotted a "Columbine-like" scenario. It was not the first time someone has tried to imitate the deadly 1999 shooting massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which two youths killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others before committing suicide.
Because of the fear of such copycat threats, the depositions of the parents of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold will be kept under seal in the National Archives for 20 years. Federal judge Lewis Babcock made that ruling Monday, after stating that no one, including violence prevention experts, will be able to review the depositions until they are unsealed in 2027.
Attempts to contact the Mesa boy and his parents were unsuccessful.