A 16-year-old teen girl was arrested in Gainesville, Georgia, this week after plans were discovered by classmates that she had intended to attack a black church.
The girl’s intended target was the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. According to law enforcement, the girl’s plans including torturing and murdering congregants in the church, using knives as her preferred weapon to do so.
The teen’s choice to target Bethel AME appeared to be entirely because its members are predominantly black.
“Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” Gainseville Police Chief Jay Parrish said, per reporting from the Associated Press.
The plan was thwarted, however, when students who go to the same school as the teen discovered the plan. The girl reportedly had a notebook that included details of her plans.
Rev. Dr. Michelle Rizer-Pool, the head pastor at Bethel AME, said her first instinct upon hearing the news was to go to the church and pray.
A white 16-year-old who allegedly plotted to kill parishioners at a predominantly Black church in Georgia has been arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit murder https://t.co/0IMc4A1l0R
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 20, 2019
“When I found out I drove to the church, went inside it and prayed and anointed my church and asked God to put a hedge of protection around us,” she said.
The teen’s notebook contained “manifesto-type” language that revealed the would-be assailant was “definitely racially motivated” in her planned attack, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said to the Washington Post.
Investigators added that the teen may have tried once already to attack the church, as she visited it earlier this month, only to find the building was empty at the time, a Wednesday night. There would have been a normal service at the time she was visiting, but it had been canceled that evening.
The community of Gainesville is a city about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.