(Reuters) - A 16-year-old high school student was arrested on suspicion of planning to attack black people at a predominantly African-American church in the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia, police said on Tuesday.
The teenager, described by police as a white female, detailed her plan to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in a notebook that was found by fellow students who alerted school authorities, police said in a statement.
The youth, who police did not identify, was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and sent to a youth detention center in Georgia.
Gainesville Police Department officials said the investigation indicated that the teenager was targeting the church based on the racial demographic of its members.
“This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration, and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” Police Chief Jay Parrish said in the statement.
A 2015 attack on a church in Charleston “does appear to have played some type of role in this,” the New York Times quoted a police officer, Sergeant Kevin Holbrook, as saying.
A self-avowed white supremacist, Dylann Roof, went to a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, where he killed nine African-American church members with a .45-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol.
The Georgia teen had assembled a collection of butcher knives and other straight-edged weapons and she had visited the church once when no one was present, the Times reported.
A representative of the Gainesville police was not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rich McKay, Robert Birsel