CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A high school student accused of stashing pipe bombs in his backpack and shooting at a school resource police officer can be prosecuted as an adult, a judge ruled on Friday.
Christian Helms faces attempted murder and weapons charges for the September 21 incident at Socastee High School, located just south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Authorities say Helms, then 14, shot at and wounded a resource officer. A subsequent search located two pipe bombs in Helms’ backpack and more bombs and bomb-making materials at his home, as well as evidence he intended an attack similar to the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, authorities said.
“He intended to murder as many of his fellow students as he could,” said Greg Hembree, solicitor for South Carolina’s 15th Judicial Circuit.
“He had studied the Columbine killings, the Virginia Tech killings,” Hembree said. “He saw these (shooters) as his heroes. He had journals, diagrams, videotapes. He videotaped his goodbye message to his parents. He had a list of who he was going to kill. He had practiced.”
Prosecutors said Helms planned to kill the resource officer first because he needed more ammunition.
At a hearing this week, defense witnesses testified Helms had been taking medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, and had fought with his father the night before the incident.
Helms’ mother said he had been bullied because he had red hair, according to news accounts.
But Hembree said the teen comes from a suburban, two-parent family and has above-average intelligence.
Helms had never been arrested before, and there was no evidence he had been physically abused, Assistant Solicitor Alicia Richardson said.
Helms has been in state custody since his arrest. He faces up to 30 years in prison on the attempted murder charge and two to 25 years on each of three bomb charges. He has not entered a plea.
A charge of threatened or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for an act of terrorism was dropped.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton