Re-trial begins for student accused of planning 'Columbine-style' school shooting

NOW: Re-trial begins for student accused of planning ’Columbine-style’ school shooting

FULTON COUNTY, Ind. -- The re-trail of the teen who allegedly planned a “columbine-style” school shooting started Monday in Fulton County.

John Schultz IV’s first trial in July 2021 ended in a mistrial.

Schultz has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder does not result in death, intimidation, possession of a narcotic drug and possession of methamphetamine.

The other person charged in this case, Donald Robin Jr was sentenced to 17 years in prison with 9 years suspended in March 2021.

The trial began Monday with opening statements from both the prosecution and defense.

Prosecutor Mike Marrs argued the trial is about prosecuting an individual at the center of a plan to shoot up some schools, saying "This isn't Columbine, this isn't Oxford... but that doesn't make it any less of a crime."

The defense argued the case involves mental health and drugs. He added no weapons, drugs or plans were found with the suspects.

Testimony began with one of the detectives who investigated the case-- Det. Lt. Matt Campbell presented evidence pulled from Facebook messages, cell phone videos and Schultz's home, where he made several references to committing a school shooting, and likened himself to the notorious 1999 Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris, and adopted the same nickname: Reb. 

Schultz's defense argued that while he may have made references to school shootings, he never made any specific threats in any of his messages or posts.

Donald Robin, who has been convicted in connection with the plot, testified next for the prosecution. He has already been sentenced in this case. He was sentenced to 17 years for conspiracy to commit murder. While incarcerated he is receiving treatment for drug addiction.

Robin testified that they had planned a school shooting because they were angry about being bullied. Robin said he has a malformation in his chest and was bullied.

Robin said he and Schultz were inspired by the Columbine shooters, and modeled themselves on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold-- they wore black, leather trench coats and planned to modify t-shirts to resemble the ones Harris and Klebold wore during the 1999 shooting. Like Schultz, Robin adopted Klebold's nickname: Vodka. 

He and Schultz wanted to do the shooting at Rochester High School, but were considering Caston because of its remote location. They believed it would take longer for police to respond to Caston.

Robin said they wanted to make a bomb so they stole a propane tank, but argued about whether it should be stored indoors.

They were also searching for someone who would sell them a gun without asking questions. They were unsure what the laws were and whether they could legally purchase a firearm. At the time he was 17 and Schultz was 18.

He added they wanted to modify their trench coats so they could conceal their weapons and access them easily.

Schultz allegedly wrote a list of names on a wall who he hated, but Robin said they were all his friends.

Robin testified the planning was not a joke and that they really planned to commit the school shooting. 

He said he pleaded guilty because there was so much evidence against him and he wanted to take responsibility.

Testimony ended around 4 p.m. when the prosecution completed their questioning of Robin. The defense will begin cross-examination on Tuesday morning.

BACKGROUND:

On July 13, 2020, a confidential informant told a Rochester Police officer Schultz and some of his friends were planning a school massacre, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The informant said Schultz was waiting for school to start so he could "Kill as many as they can and kill themselves just like Columbine," reports said.

Schultz and Robin are both former students of Rochester Community Schools, but are not active students. Schultz does live in close proximity to Riddle Elementary School, according to the probable cause affidavit.

After reviewing public posts on Schultz and Robin's Facebook pages, the officer obtained a search warrant for their accounts.

On Schultz's account, the officer located a Facebook messenger conversation with one unnamed individual where he discussed the alleged plan. The conversation happened on June 29, 2020 and discussed Schultz hanging out with Robin, reports said.

Schultz allegedly wrote, "We are gonna do it i wanna shoot up a school with him" and "I want him to stay out of trouble till we can shoot up the place."

On June 21, Schultz and Robin messaged each other and indicated they had a suicide pact, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Robin wrote, "but im killing myself after I kill a bunch of people," and "if you feel like you need to do it.. then do it… just know im stopping you because your MY partner," and "we're peacin out when we kill a bunch of human scum."

Schultz wrote, "I does exist donny just like no matter what im doin the same for u bc u guys are my family we had bad childhoods and we will always stick together u guys fr mean everything to me."

Court documents noted Robin and Schultz gave themselves the same nicknames used by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre, reports said. They also sent each other photos of the Harris and Klebold.

On August 6, 2019, Robin had a conversation with an unnamed person on Facebook messenger and he confessed to almost perpetrating a school shooting and having an "itch for" it, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Robin wrote, "Can I tell you something that I actually had an itch for when I used to go to school," and "I was almost a school shooter," reports said.

Robin said when he was in the eighth grade he was depressed, suicidal and homicidal and decided he would "shoot up" Rochester Middle School, reports said.

He wrote that his father had recently acquired an AR15, so one day he put the AR-15 and 12 magazines in a duffle bag, in preparation, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Robin said he sat outside for approximately 30 minutes and talked himself out of doing it, reports said.

Robin wrote he had planned to kill 100 or more people - innocent kids, then kill himself, reports said.

He decided it was too risky because of the new security the school had put in place, reports said.

Also in August 2019, a friend purchased Robin a KMFDM hat for his birthday and said, "Can't believe I'm buying you a school shooter hat but if it makes you happy," reports said.

Robin wrote, "It's not a school shooter hat, it's a band hat," reports said.

In another conversation, Robin allegedly discussed shooting everyone at Caston High School, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Robin wrote he wanted "everyone dead there" and at Rochester High School, reports said.

He explained it would take 10 minutes for SWAT to arrive to Caston and another 10 minutes to figure out what was going on, according to the probable cause affidavit. He said he would kill the security guard, then start killing people in the halls, then kill students in classrooms and try to get through as many rooms as possible, according to the probable cause affidavit.

In another conversation on Facebook messenger, Robin said he had a gun "locked in my dads safe" and later discussed shooting up festivals, Black churches and even an airport, reports said.

The probable cause affidavit also states Schultz has multiple conversations on Facebook about either trying to buy illegal narcotics or others asking for his help selling illegal narcotics.

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