A 16-year-old girl in Georgia was arrested and charged with a criminal attempt to commit murder after allegedly plotting an attack against a predominantly black church.
On Friday, school resource officers at Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Georgia were notified by school officials “of a white female juvenile’s plan to cause harm to multiple people of a local church.” Students at the school told school counselors that the girl’s notebook contained a notebook “with detailed plans to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church,” according to a Tuesday statement from the Gainesville Police Department.
The church is predominantly black, according to the Associated Press.
School administration “verified the threat” and turned over the investigation to Gainesville law enforcement. Police found that “the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” according to the Tuesday statement.
The girl had also allegedly secured weapons, the Gainesville Times reported.
“She had written down how she wanted to do it, the best way to do it,” Police Chief Jay Parrish said, the Gainesville Times reported. “She had procured some butcher knives, kitchen knives, to do the attack with and had actually scouted out the location.”
“It hurts me that someone can have that much hate in their body,” Parrish continued. “It hurts me that in almost 2020 we still have that belief running around. So, I’ll say that I’m highly alarmed that someone would feel that way and would take these significant steps to attack an innocent person, a godly person, at a church — one of the most sacred things our society has left — that they would plan that as a place of attack and base it solely on skin color. That just hurts my heart.”
The girl was arrested and charged before being transported to the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville. Her name has not been publicly released by authorities.
“This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” Parrish said in the Tuesday statement.
The Rev. Rose Johnson Mackey, director of the Newtown Florist Club, a civil rights organization founded in Gainesville 70 years ago, told the Associated Press that, “It just grieves my spirit on a number of different levels, one that the intentions of this young person were so calculated to do great harm against people who just simply had no knowledge of such a plot.”
The Hill has reached out to the Gainesville Police Department for comment.