Russell County High School student Derek Shrout, 17, will be in court this afternoon facing a felony charge of attempted assault after he was arrested for allegedly planning to use homemade explosives in a terrorist attack on fellow students at the school in Seale, Ala.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Sunday a search of Shrout's home Friday found about a couple dozen small tobacco cans and two large cans, all with holes drilled in them and containing pellets.
He said other ingredients to complete the small bombs -- such as black powder, butane and fuses -- were not found.
Taylor said the devices were just "a step or two away from being ready to explode."
Shrout described the bombs he was making in a journal, Taylor said, and, if completed the way Shrout described, the bombs would have blown up.
"It would have been serious," Taylor said.
The sheriff praised the good work by school officials and his investigators.
"The system worked and thank God, it did. We avoided a very bad situation," Taylor said.
A teacher found a journal left in her class. Searching for a name, she read what appeared to be plans for a terroristic attack. Taylor said that Shrout had "obviously put a lot of thought into the plan" and that six specific students and a teacher were named.
"The teacher could have just discarded the journal but didn't," Taylor said.
Instead, the journal, determined to belong to Shrout, was given to an administrator who got it to School Resource Officer Tommy Morrison, one of Taylor's deputies. He recognized the potential for danger and Shrout was brought in for questioning.
Taylor said Shrout claimed the writing in the journal to be fictitious, but Shrout's parents, whom Taylor called "very cooperative," allowed a search of the house and the bomb materials were located.
Taylor said the two big cans had "Fat Boy" and "Little Man" written on the side. It is a play on words. "Little Boy" was the code name given the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II, and "Fat Man" was the code name for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
The sheriff said it is believed the bomb-making information was found on the Internet.
Shrout, currently being held in the Russell County Jail, admitted to being a white supremacist, according to authorities.
"He has a lot of pent up anger toward blacks," Taylor said.
This incident comes just a little more than three weeks after the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Taylor said it is important to train teachers and law enforcement personnel to be in the mindset of taking such a threat seriously and to "act on it."
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McClatchy-Tribune News Service