published Monday, January 7th, 2013

Alabama sheriff thinks Connecticut tragedy a factor in bomb plot

SEALE, Ala. — An Alabama teenager teen who described himself as a white supremacist made journal entries about a plot to bomb classmates three days after the Newtown school massacre and began building small homemade explosives, a sheriff said today.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told The Associated Press that he believed the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a factor because the first date in the boy’s journal describing the plan was Dec. 17 — three days after the Connecticut killings.

Seventeen-year-old Derek Shrout is facing an attempted assault charge after authorities say he planned to use homemade explosives to attack fellow students at Russell County High School.

Taylor said the boy told investigators that he’s a white supremacist and five of the six students he named in his journal are black. The journal was found by a teacher, who turned it over to authorities.

A search of Shrout’s home found several small tobacco cans and two large cans, all with holes drilled in them and containing pellets. Taylor said all they needed were black powder and fuses to become explosives. The journal also allegedly mentioned using firearms. The sheriff said Shrout’s father owned a few household weapons, like a hunting rifle, a shotgun and a handgun.

“He just talks about some students, he specifically named six students and one faculty member and he talked about weapons and the amounts of ammunition for each weapon that he would use if he attacked the school,” Taylor said.

The sheriff said he didn’t believe the teen’s initial claim that the journal was a work of fiction.

“When you go to his house and you start finding the actual devices that he talked about being made, no it’s not fiction anymore,” Taylor said. “Those devices were — all they needed was the black powder and the fuse — he had put a lot of time and thought into that.”

It wasn’t immediately known if Shrout has an attorney. He was scheduled to appear in court this afternoon.

Taylor praised school officials who discovered the journal and notified authorities.

“The system worked and thank God, it did,” he said. “We avoided a very bad situation.”

Seale is about 80 miles east of Montgomery.

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