Teen who planned school shooting rightly deemed delinquent, COA rules

A homeschooled teen who threatened to shoot students at northern Indiana high school did not convince an Indiana Court of Appeals panel that there wasn’t enough evidence to support his delinquency adjudication.

Members of the appellate court on Thursday affirmed the adjudication of minor B.B. as a delinquent in In the Matter of B.B., A Child Alleged to be a Delinquent v. State of Indiana, 19A-JV-1803. In that case, B.B. admitted his desire to shoot students at Rochester High School in 2018, where his friend R.A. attended as a student. B.B. made threats via the social media app Snapchat, over the phone and in person.

B.B.’s friend, who at first thought the comments were a joke, later took them seriously when B.B. made repeated comments about using an assault rifle from his home and disclosed a “manifesto,” which described B.B.’s plan to shoot students at the high school. R.A. suspected B.B. would attack the school on the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Word spread through the high school on that date, and many students did not attend classes for several days afterwards.

During an investigation, law enforcement interviewed B.B. with his mother present, located the “manifesto” and photos of the minor holding the assault rifle. The “manifesto” included statements indicating that B.B. planned to harm others, stating: “I’m not doing this because I’m mad at anyone, it’s just that suicide is overrated, if you want to die take others with you,” and “[s]ometimes I wonder why I want to shoot up the school but then I remember all of the hatred and loneliness I feel everyday, knowing nobody.”

The Fulton Circuit Court adjudicated B.B. as a delinquent for committing an act that would be Level 6 felony intimidation if committed by an adult, ordering him to serve 60 days, suspended, in secure detention at Kinsey Youth Center. He was then placed on probation until Jan. 12, 2020.

B.B. appealed his adjudication, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s decision because the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that B.B. knew or reasonably should have known his plans to shoot students at the high school would be communicated to the potential victims. The appellate court agreed with the state, however, finding B.B. was not discreet in his plans to kill people at the high school.

“Unless R.A. was a coconspirator in the attack, and no such argument has been made, a reasonable fact finder could conclude that B.B. knew or should have known that R.A. would report a plan of mass murder to other students at the high school. R.A. behaved in a predictable way when he exposed B.B.’s plans,” Judge Elizabeth Tavitas wrote. “The State presented sufficient evidence from which a trier of fact could conclude B.B. committed intimidation to interfere with the occupancy of the high school.”

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