John LaDue first harbored thoughts about killing people around the eighth grade.
“Not thinking about it seriously like I was now,” he told police on the April night they found him in a storage unit with bomb-making materials. “Just, like, entertaining the thought.”
In audio recordings of his initial police interviews, released Tuesday by the state court office, the 17-year-old is heard calmly and precisely describing his plans to first “dispose of” his family because he wanted as many victims as possible, set a fire in the country for a diversion and then carry out a massacre at the junior and senior high school in Waseca, Minn.
He offered varying explanations over the course of his hourslong talks with officers, according to the recordings and transcripts.
“I think I’m just really mentally ill and no one’s noticed and I’ve been trying to hide it,” he said initially, adding that he’d never been bullied and has good parents. He wanted to “get out of this place,” he said.
Later, he told an officer he thought it would be “fun” and he would be following his idol, Columbine gunman Eric Harris.
Several times, LaDue told police that he wanted to see a psychiatrist. He’d wanted to ask many times, he said, but didn’t want his parents to know because he feared getting treatment would mean “I might not think the same way I do now and I might not get my goal done.”
After police foiled his plan anyway, he said, it didn’t matter anymore. “I just want to find out what’s wrong with me, actually,” he said.
Carefully mixing explosives
LaDue’s voice cracked at times, including when he told a Waseca officer about thoughts he’d had about killing another student who had annoyed him.
When LaDue detailed his process for making bombs, his voice grew more confident, speaking precisely in describing the chemistry involved and the safety precautions he’d take in mixing explosives.
LaDue described studying websites and buying materials online with money from his job and cash he stole from his parents’ wallets.
When his father had questions about ball bearings that had arrived in the mail — which he planned to use as shrapnel in a pressure cooker he had bought on sale at Wal-Mart — LaDue said he was using it for “some high-definition CD audio.”
He didn’t have a list of students he was targeting, he said. “I would have taken anyone out, I didn’t care.”
He said, though, that he wanted to kill older students, not seventh-graders. He didn’t want to be known like Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, who killed young elementary school children, he said. “That’s just pathetic,” he told an officer. “Have some dignity.”
LaDue preferred shooters who operated under the radar: “Someone you’d say, ‘I never knew he would do something like that.’ Someone you would not suspect.”
LaDue is charged as a juvenile with four counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property and six counts of possession of a bomb by someone under 18. Prosecutors are trying to have him charged as an adult.
He said several times in police interviews that no one knew about his plot, nobody knew what he was thinking.