Teen Accused in School Bomb Plot
Posted by shadmia on April 24, 2008
Ryan Schallenberger, 18, from Mount Croghan, in Chesterfield County, S.C., was a senior at Chesterfield High School. He was a straight-A student. The school’s Web site lists Schallenberger as a member of the 2007 academic bowl squad and he won an academic award from Newberry College in the last school year. He had a promising academic future ahead of him.
His friends described him as a likable person who had many friends and was very sociable. Hanna Huntley, 18, one of his classmates described how he once made the history class laugh by singing songs from the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. But there was another Ryan Schallenberger that none of them knew……
Ryan Schallenberger was arrested on Saturday, April 19, 2008 on charges that he planned to bomb his school. In fact it was his parents who called the police because he had ordered 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which they retrieved after getting a delivery notice from the postal service. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that was a component in the deadly 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
A search of Ryan’s room revealed bombing plans including a hand-drawn map of the school, a hate-filled journal lauding the Columbine killers and an audiotape that authorities say was to have been played after Schallenberger died. Authorities say he could have assembled deadly bombs within minutes with the materials they found. He now faces multiple state and federal criminal charges including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a possible life sentence.
Ryan Schallenberger’s mother and stepfather, Laurie and John Sittley, are “heartbroken,” according to Sheriff Sam Parker. The Sittleys have not commented publicly on the case. Their phone number is unlisted and their home about 10 miles from the school was blocked by “No Trespassing” signs. Ryan has eight siblings and step-siblings.
Ryan parents were worried about him, they took him to a hospital three days before his Saturday arrest after he made a 4-inch indentation in a wall when he slammed his head into it. He was not badly injured, but his parents also called a local mental health clinic fearing that he may need psychiatric help. The clinic “offered no help” according to prosecutor Jay Hodge at a court hearing.
Sheriff Sam Parker said the teenager’s “heartbroken” parents deserved praise for calling authorities when they retrieved the ammonium nitrate from the post office. He credited them with averting a tragedy:
“Without the parents, Chesterfield County would’ve suffered. We thank them,” Parker said.
Chesterfield town police chief, Randall Lear said the teen had planned to make several bombs and had all the supplies needed to kill dozens at Chesterfield High School, depending on where the devices were placed and whether they included shrapnel.
“The only thing left was delivering the bombs,” the police chief said.
He, like Sheriff Parker, also praised Schallenberger’s parents for their bravery in turning in their son:
“I can honestly tell you, were I faced with that scenario, I don’t know if I could have made that decision,” Lear said. “I don’t know whether I would have been brave enough to do what these parents did.”
Ryan Schallenberger kept a journal for more than a year that detailed his plans for a suicide attack and included maps of the school. The writings did not include a specific time for the attack or the intended targets. However, in his writings, Schallenberger said he admired the two teens who killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 before committing suicide. He also left an audio tape to be played after he died explaining why he wanted to bomb his school. Police chief Lear wouldn’t detail what was on the tape except to say Schallenberger was an angry young man.
“He seemed to hate the world. He hated people different from him — the rich boys with good-looking girlfriends,” Lear said.
Ryan called his plot “Columbine III” and laid out details in a “bomb summary” that described the different types of explosives he would use in the suicide attack and also contained details for a nail bomb.. He even recorded his expenses.
“I think he was more concerned about a high body count than killing anyone in particular,” Randall Lear said. “Inside a school, with confined concrete walls, just a little bit of nails, nuts and bolts, ball bearings and some of these explosives devices, it would devastate the student body.”