A TEENAGE girl who plotted to butcher Black churchgoers in a knife attack has pleaded guilty, after paraphernalia idolizing gunman Dylann Roof was found in her schoolbag.
The 17-year-old girl, who remains unidentified, said she planned to attack churchgoers at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Georgia, with a knife.
The teenager was sentenced on Thursday to remain in juvenile detention until her 21st birthday, under a negotiated sentence, NBC News reports.
It is the maximum possible sentence available after her high school classmates alerted school counselors about the plot when they found notebooks detailing her murderous plans in November last year.
The girl will begin 10 years probation during which she will be prohibited from coming close to the church, located in Gainesville about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, according to WXIA.
The plot only came to light after a high school classmate heard about the plan and reported it to authorities.
NOTEBOOK TO PLAN MURDER
"Gainesville High School Resource Officers were notified by school administration of a white female juvenile's plans to cause harm to multiple people of a local church," the Gainesville Police Department said in a press release on November 19, 2019.
"Students confided in school counsellors regarding a juvenile's notebook with detailed plans to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville."
The police investigation concluded the girl chose to target the church "based on the racial demographic of the church members".
The girl was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder.
Prosecutors said that the teenager had written out the plans in her notebook and a search of her bag revealed two knives and T-shirts, one of which read 'free Dylann Storm Roof' with swastikas drawn onto the arms, WXIA reported.
The shirts also included several writings on their backs, including “I’m not crazy I had to do this,” and, “I do consider myself a white supremacist," prosecutors said.
Roof was 21 years old when he massacred nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, during a prayer service in 2015.
The self-proclaimed white supremacist was convicted of murder over the massacre, in which a senior pastor and a state senator were shot dead at a Methodist Episcopal Church.
Bishop Reginald Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, told reporters that the girl was inspired by Roof.
"Idealizing him and sharing the same ideology, she plotted to accomplish the same at Bethel church in Gainesville," Jackson said.
Bethel AME Church's pastor, the Rev. Michel Rizer-Pool, told the court that many in her congregation had become anxious since the planned attack was discovered.
The judge commended the teen for her behavior while in custody since last year.
"I appreciate how much you have worked on yourself," Judge Allison Toller said.
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"From all accounts it appears that you have welcomed the assistance that you're getting, that you have taken the opportunity to get your GED and to further yourself and that you have been pleasant and working well with the staff.
"Through your detention you have made the best of a very bad circumstance."
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