Page 3 of 3 Previous

Continued: 'Columbine effect': Alarm is rising over copycats

Nancy Lageson, director of the state’s School Safety Center and a retired police officer, said that in many ways, schools are “more prepared” for potential trouble than they were a generation ago.

“They have visitor procedures. They have controlled access. They have controlled doors,” Lageson said. “When I was growing up, that was not the case.”

Schools also are required by law to have a crisis management plan and threat assessment teams that assess a student’s personality, family and school dynamics and the student’s peer group to help determine risks.

The safety center trains school officials to respond to threats. Like other experts, Lageson said that establishing strong relationships with students is essential. A former in-school officer, Lageson said she recovered guns several times in school. Each time, she said, a student tipped her off.

Even with the greater scrutiny and awareness, Waseca came perilously close to disaster.

Bomb squad shocked

LaDue was caught just in time, and by a tip from a caller who thought a teen was acting suspiciously on a visit to a storage unit.

Bomb squad members called in to confiscate the explosives were “shocked by the amount of bomb making chemicals and components” he had in a storage unit, according to the criminal complaint. “Bomb squad members said they have never seen that much of some of those chemicals in one place.”

Investigators found three bombs in LaDue’s house and seven firearms in his bedroom, along with ammunition. Three more bombs were discovered at the storage unit, along with chemicals and materials to make them and 60 pounds of metal ball bearings. The storage unit also held a black trench coat, an item of clothing that the Columbine shooters were fond of wearing.

How near was Waseca to Columbine’s fate?

Based on LaDue’s statements to police and the completed bombs and weaponry found in his bedroom and storage unit, police concluded: “Officers believe that LaDue intended to carry out his plan to kill within the next week or two.”


Staff Writer Libor Jany contributed to this report. • 651-925-5041 • 952-746-3283 • 612-673-4438


  • related content

  • Video: Waseca: A stunned community still searching for answers

    Saturday May 3, 2014

    A 17-year-old Waseca High junior told police he planned to set off bombs and go on a shooting spree...

  • May 3: Prosecutors seek adult charges for teen in foiled plot to bomb school

    Saturday May 3, 2014

    The day after a 17-year-old was charged with a plan to kill his family and attack his school with bombs and guns, police were quiet about their investigation.

  • May 2: LaDue was building bombs for months, police say

    Saturday May 10, 2014

    John David LaDue, 17, plotted to murder his family, then go on a rampage through Waseca’s junior high and high school, according to criminal charges filed Thursday.

  • Teen arrested in case of explosives on Waseca school playground

    Wednesday April 30, 2014

    WASECA, Minn. – Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy after explosive devices were found on a school playground in southern...

  • John David LaDue

  • Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris, left, and Dylan Klebold were pictured in the commons shortly before their suicides.

  • John David LaDue, in a deer hunting photo, ofy

  • John David LaDue with a trophy deer, the site of his storage unit, top, and a playground where he set off practice bombs.

  • John David LaDue posed with a trophy deer. He had set off practice bombs at this school playground in March.

  • John David LaDue posed with a trophy deer. He had set off practice bombs at this school playground in March.

  • Listeners were somber at Thursday’s news conference in Waseca. Police said they believed John LaDue would have carried out his plot.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters






question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question