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A White Teenager Was Arrested After Allegedly Planning To Attack A Local Black Church

"This was obviously a racially motivated crime," one police official said.

Posted on November 19, 2019, at 4:36 p.m. ET

Nick Bowman / AP

A white 16-year-old girl in Georgia was arrested after allegedly planning to attack a predominantly black church in the area with knives, police said.

The Gainesville Police Department said in a statement Tuesday that school officials were notified of the teen's plans "to cause harm to multiple people" at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members," the statement read.

Officials first received word about the girl's plans through students at Gainesville High, police said. The students had told school counselors about her notebook, which had "detailed plans to commit murder" at the church, according to police.

Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook told BuzzFeed News the girl, whom authorities did not identify, had gone to Bethel AME once before, either to commit the attack or stake out the place, but there was no one there.

"This was obviously a racially motivated crime," Holbrook said.

The means of attack was going to be edged weapons, such as knives, "or something to that extent," he added.

The girl was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder as a juvenile and booked into the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.

The Gainesville Bethel AME Church did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gainesville City School District Superintendent Jeremy Williams told the Gainesville Times, "it was very sobering to know that plans like that do go on in many communities, and in this case, went on in our community."

Calls to Williams' office were not immediately returned.

Gainesville police praised the relationship between students and authorities for bringing the plans to light.

"[This case is] a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration, and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident," Gainesville police Chief Jay Parrish said.


Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook's name was misstated in a previous version of this post.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.