Teen Planned To Attack Predominately Black Georgia Church: Police
GAINESVILLE, GA — A teenage girl from Gainesville was arrested recently after her classmates alerted authorities to a notebook that police said she kept with detailed plans to attack and kill members of a predominately black church.
Gainesville police said in a press release that Gainesville High School school resource officers were notified Friday by school officials of a 16-year-old girl’s plans to murder people at a local church.
“Students confided in school counselors regarding a juvenile’s notebook with detailed plans to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville,” police said. “The school administration conducted the preliminary investigation and verified the threat.”
Police were then called in, took the girl, who is white, into custody and contacted her parents.
“Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” police said. “The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville Police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.”
The teen was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and was taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.
“This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the study body, school administration and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said “the attack was intended to be similar to the one carried out by convicted mass murderer Dylann Roof.”
“While we are very concerned about this incident, we are not surprised,” Jackson said. “Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have been on the rise for many years, but it is unfortunate we cannot have this perpetrator prosecuted on hate crimes in Georgia because there is no law on the books to address it.”
The AME Church has been lobbying the Georgia Legislature to enact a hate crimes law in the state, Jackson said.