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Prosecutors: Teens arrested in Colorado Springs Sabin Middle School threat wanted to honor Columbine shooters

October 26, 2017 Updated: October 27, 2017 at 7:43 am
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Sabin Middle School at 3605 N Carefree Cir, Colorado Springs, CO 80917 photographed Friday, August 1, 2014. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Two 13-year-old boys behind an alleged "kill list" at Sabin Middle School modeled a deadly plot after the Columbine High School shootings and seemed intent on carrying it out, an officer testified Thursday.

"Eric (Harris) and Dylan (Klebold) are their heroes and they planned on honoring them by following through with their plan," said Colorado Springs police officer Isaiah Wright.

During a detention hearing before 4th Judicial District Judge G. David Miller, Wright described what a prosecutor called the boys' "infatuation" with the mass killers. The officer said the Sabin suspects adopted the Columbine killers' nicknames "Rebel" and "Vodka" and even planned on buying similar clothing ahead of an attack.

The judge ordered that one of the defendants remain held without bond at Spring Creek Youth Services Center, calling the teenager a threat to himself and others. The second boy will return to Miller's court Nov. 3 for a similar detention hearing.

Police were tipped to the alleged scheme on Oct. 5 by a parent relaying details of a conversation someone overheard in school. Authorities previously said they collected guns from the teens' homes while serving search warrants a day later, and said no weapons were found on school property. Seized weapons include a pistol turned over by one boy's mother and several weapons that the other boy's father kept in a safe, according to comments in court.

Thursday's ruling came despite arguments that the boys engaged in a harmless fantasy borne of schoolyard bullying. Public defender Laura Nafziger said the teens were frustrated but had no intentions of committing actual violence.

"These are two kids who were bullied and who have vivid imaginations," she said, arguing there was no evidence the boys took steps ­- beyond idle "discussions" - to carry out the plot.

Prosecutors said a video found on one of the boys' phones shows otherwise. In it, someone tosses a Molotov cocktail into a drainage ditch, and the device goes off, Wright said. No people are shown in the video, and Wright couldn't say when it was recorded.

The officer later learned the ditch was located at Hopeful Drive and Blissful Circle North, less than a mile from Sabin. He said he found a burn mark and soot, indicating the explosion was real. The judge said the discovery presented evidence that the boys either had weapons described in their text messages and emails, or were interested in obtaining them.

Prosecutors have petitioned the court to prosecute both boys as adults, potentially on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Both boys are due to return to court Dec. 18, at which time the judge is expected to schedule a hearing that will determine if the boys remain in Juvenile Court or will be transferred to adult court.

The teens, who are not being named because they are juveniles, currently face juvenile charges of inciting destruction of life or property, and conspiracy - both class 6 felonies - based on allegations they had a list of teens and staff members they wished to "punish."

Neither boy has a criminal record, their attorneys said.

"There wasn't anything stockpiled," said David Foley, who represents the other boy. "They were talking." Foley said during a previous hearing that the boys hung out together outside school once, for a couple hours, and that all other conversations occurred in the lunchroom. On Thursday Foley said references to Harris and Klebold were from a Columbine documentary and YouTube videos about the Columbine massacre, in which 15 people died, including the assailants.

Wright testified that the boys also referred to the people responsible for a shooting near Doherty High School in late September as "living legends" and expressed disappointment that the shooters didn't make it into the school. That shooting occurred during a fight involving students in a Dollar Store parking lot and left one student seriously injured. Police said that student is expected to recover.

Gazette reporter Kaitlin Durbin contributed to this story.

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