Alleged Utah school bomb plot: 2 charged; teen girl praised as hero
A teenage girl who received an electronic warning was being praised as a hero Friday for tipping off authorities in Utah about what they believe was a plot by two students to blow up a high school during an assembly then steal an airplane and flee to safety.
Two students, who seemingly had a fascination with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, were arrested this week in connection with the alleged plot at Roy High School in Roy.
Dallin Morgan, 18, was released Friday after posting bail of $10,000, Roy police spokeswoman Anna Bond said in a telephone interview. A 16-year-old boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, was also charged.
Officials were not releasing the name of the girl who first approached school administrators, but there was no mistaking the admiration.
“It was the work of a very courageous student who came forward,” Bond said Friday. “It could have been a disaster.”
Roy is a suburb of 38,000 people about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City. Many residents commute to larger cities nearby to work. It has one high school with about 1,500 students.
Law enforcement officers are investigating the incident and have put together the beginnings of a timeline, based on interviews and materials, including several computers, seized at the suspects’ homes and from their vehicles. At least three months ago, perhaps earlier, Morgan and his friend allegedly began their planning, Bond said.
In December, the younger student reportedly went to Columbine to talk with people about the rampage by two high school seniors who shot and killed at least 12 students and one teacher. Twenty-one students were wounded in the gunfire and three others were hurt trying to escape. The pair, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, then committed suicide.
Despite their fascination with the massacre, the Utah students modified the script. For their weapon, they chose a bomb rather than a gun, and the pair hoped to escape, Bond said.
No bomb has been found, but officials “have very strong information to believe they have been involved in making and testing them in the past,” Bond said. Police have also recovered maps of the school not readily available and evidence that the pair had “an absolute knowledge of security systems” on campus.
The pair planned to escape by going to the Ogden Hinckley Airport, where they were going to steal an airplane. They had purchased pilot training software, costing about $350, and had logged hundreds of hours teaching themselves how to fly a small plane, Bond said.
On Wednesday, a student went to school administrators and said she had received a text from one of the suspects. Police would not discuss the details because the girl and the suspect who sent the message are both minors.
The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper quoted the girl as saying the text asked: “If I told you to stay home on a certain day, would you?”
School officials then contacted police.
Photo: This booking photo released by the Weber County Sheriff's Department shows Dallin Morgan, 18, who was released on $10,000 bail Friday. He and a 16-year-old friend were charged with plotting to blow up a high school in Roy, Utah. Credit: Weber County Sheriff's Department.