The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 2, 2014

Worries aired, assurances made in wake of bombing threat

Wasecans wonder how plot got as far as it did

A community meeting for Waseca High School parents, prompted by an arrest that one parent described as being “a breath away from people being massacred,” brought assurances that students are safe at school, all the psychological help they might need will be available immediately Monday morning and many other things are in the works to make the last 19 days of school as normal as possible.

The Friday night meeting also brought some hard questions for both school officials and police investigators. Some parents wanted to know why the plans junior John David LaDue, 17, had in the works weren’t discovered sooner. He is facing attempted murder and explosive possession charges for allegedly planning to ignite bombs in the school and start shooting classmates and school staff members after killing his family.

Many parents also scrutinized themselves and others in the community, which, according to police, was very close to one of those tragic events that draw more attention than any small town wants. The events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have been on the minds of many since LaDue was arrested Tuesday night. About 175 people attended the meeting.

LaDue’s alleged plan might still be moving forward today if an alert woman, Chelsie Schellhas of Waseca, hadn’t called police to report what she thought was a burglary at a storage facility near her home. Instead, Waseca police officers stumbled upon pounds of bomb-making ingredients and a cache of weapons and ammunition. Constructed bombs also were found during a search of the storage unit LaDue was entering and his house about eight blocks away.

“Something is deeply wrong in our culture,” Waseca Public Schools Supt. Tom Lee said at one point during the meeting. “Something is deeply wrong because this is happening way too much. We need to do this for ourselves. The government isn’t going to do it.

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