British teens ‘planned copycat Columbine massacre’
London — Two teenagers plotted a killing spree at a British school on the 10th anniversary of the infamous Columbine High School massacre in the United States, a court heard Wednesday.
Matthew Swift, 18, and Ross McKnight, 16, planned to detonate a bomb at a shopping centre and then mount a murderous rampage at Audenshaw High School in Greater Manchester, killing teachers and fellow pupils, prosecutors said.
Thirteen people were killed and 23 others injured in the Columbine attack on April 20, 1999, when teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a bloody rampage through their high school.
Knight, who still attended Audenshaw High School, and former pupil Swift, planned to carry out a copycat attack, 10 years on, a prosecuting lawyer told Manchester Crown Court.
The teenagers deny charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.
But prosecutor Peter Wright said: "It is the prosecution case that these two young men sat in the dock had planned to copy and emulate the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, here in the UK."
"They had discussed, they had fantasised and eventually they had agreed to convert their fantasises into reality," he told a jury in the northern English city.
They "set about planning to detonate a bomb, some form of improvised explosive device at a shopping centre in North Manchester, known as Crown Point North, and then travel to Audenshaw High School at which they had been or were indeed still pupils of, and embark upon a killing spree in which they would murder teachers and pupils alike before killing themselves."
The pair were fascinated by Columbine and by the 1995 Oklahoma city bombing which killed 168 people. McKnight wrote a school essay about a massacre in which 10 people died. The work earned him a C grade.
They were arrested after McKnight rang a female friend when he was drunk to tell her he loved her and that "he couldn’t wait until April 20 – the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre".
"He said he and Swifty had been inspired by what had happened in America — school shootings — and what had happened in Germany," Wright said, referring to a school shooting in southwest Germany in March which left 15 dead.
The case continues.