Waseca boy, 17, allegedly had been making bombs, planning for months
WASECA, MINN. – John David LaDue had it all figured out. He would kill his mother, father and sister and then create a diversion to keep first responders busy while he went to Waseca Junior/Senior High School to wreak havoc.
There, the 17-year-old planned to set off pressure-cooker bombs full of nails and metal ball bearings in the cafeteria. Students who weren’t maimed or killed would be gunned down in the halls, he told police.
After his arrest Tuesday, the high school junior said he intended to kill “as many students as he could,” before he was killed by the SWAT team, according to charging documents filed in Waseca County District Court.
LaDue was charged Thursday with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property and six counts of possession of a bomb by someone under 18. Police found seven firearms and at least six completed bombs in his bedroom and in the storage unit where he was arrested.
Police on Friday said they have no further information to share on the investigation and declined to comment on how LaDue was able to obtain so many guns and bomb-making materials. Students in the Waseca schools were home on Friday on a scheduled off day.
A community meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at Waseca High School “to communicate to families our plans for moving forward together,” the School District said in a notice on its website.
Parents throughout the town were shaken and shocked as they began to hear details of LaDue’s plot.
“It’s just too scary to put in words,” said a parent who has kids in Waseca’s middle school and high school but asked that her name not be used. “Everybody in town feels sick to their stomach. Scared. There were tears today.”
Police Capt. Kris Markeson said that he believes LaDue would have carried out his murderous plot “just because of the amount of preparation and thought he put into this.”
LaDue had planned and practiced for 10 months, refining the chemicals in his bombs to try to find a more lethal combination. He set off “practice bombs” on the playground at Hartley Elementary School, Faith United Methodist Church, Oak Park and high school softball fields. Some of those bombs were found in March, raising concerns.
The criminal complaint said LaDue told police that he originally planned the attack for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that killed 13 people in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.
That was thwarted because that day was Easter Sunday and there was no school.
Markeson said police believe the attack would have happened “within the next few weeks” if it hadn’t been for an alert 911 caller who grew suspicious after she saw a tall, white male wearing a backpack open a storage unit, go inside and close the door.
Chelsie Schellhas was washing dishes Tuesday night when she noticed a boy with a backpack and a fast-food bag walking through her back yard toward the nearby MiniMax Storage Units.
“He walked through the puddles when there was a perfectly good road he could have walked on,” she said. “It just didn’t seem right to me because we see people come and go with their trucks, and they don’t come on foot and cut through people’s back yards. It was like he was blatantly trying not to be seen. That’s why I thought it was odd.”
And then it took “some time” for him to open the door, leading Schellhas to believe he was breaking in. Before he shut the door, Schellhas noticed trash and Wal-Mart bags in the unit. That also “didn’t look right,” she said.
According to the complaint, three Waseca officers were sent to the storage facility at 7:24 p.m.
LaDue was in the unit when officers arrived. Several small lanterns were set up inside to provide light, and officers saw ammo boxes, a scale, a pressure cooker and packaging for red iron oxide, materials commonly used for making bombs.
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