Four North Carolina middle school students were arrested for allegedly planning a “Columbine-style” attack at their middle school.
The four Carver Middle School students aged between 12-13 reportedly used social media to plan an attack on specific classmates and a teach, local authorities told The State news.
All four students face felony charges of communicating threats against a school, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jessica Sadonvikov told the local news outlet.
The students were planning the “Columbine-style” attack by messaging each other on Instagram about carrying out a school shooting, Sadovnikov said.
“They named a specific teacher and students on a list to kill,” she said.
Sadonvikov said the students were male and specifically mentioned the Columbine incident, the 1999 massacre in suburban Denver which was at the time the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history with 15 casualties.
“We know it was a plan. What we are trying to find out is what was their capability?” Sadovnikov said. “There is reasonable suspicion the mastermind had access to weapons, but we haven’t confirmed that yet.”
The Instagram posts were first reported by an employee of the school to the resource officer on Jan. 24, who then told the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office issued a statement Tuesday saying the precautions were taken to keep the school safe and an investigation is under way.
Sadovnikov added that the students are not currently being held, but the sheriff’s office has filed a petition to keep them in a juvenile detention center.
"Throughout the course of the investigation, this was absolutely a serious matter. There is nothing to indicate this was a hoax or a joke," Sadovnikov told local news outlet WRAL-TV. "If this incident had not been reported, then it's very likely something could have ended up happening."
Two other students could face charges following an investigation into the incident.