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Alleged Massacre Plot Described

May 28, 1999

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) _ One of four boys accused of plotting to massacre students and teachers at their middle school confessed to the plan as soon as he was questioned, a police officer testified.

The officer and several Holland Woods Middle School students testified Thursday at a preliminary examination for 14-year-olds Justin Schnepp and Jedaiah Zinzo.

They and 13-year-old co-defendants Daniel Fick and Jonathan McDonald planned to steal weapons, force the principal to call an assembly, and then massacre classmates and teachers at the school about 60 miles northeast of Detroit, witnesses said.

The hearing produced some of the first details of the alleged shooting plan since the boys were charged on May 13 _ just over three weeks after 15 people died in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

The hearing was held to determine whether there is enough evidence for Schnepp and Zinzo to stand trial as adults on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

A similar examination is set for June 1 for McDonald and Fick. They are being prosecuted as adults in juvenile court. If convicted, they could be ordered into juvenile detention or sentenced as adults.

Authorities say they foiled the plot after classmates reported it to school officials.

Schnepp immediately confessed when he was brought in for questioning on May 12, said Officer Mark Malott.

But Schnepp’s attorney, Frederick Lepley, argued the case should be dismissed. ``There’s a big difference between talking about something in class to impress your friends and carrying that out,″ he said.

Student Ryan Ranshaw, 14, testified the boys approached him May 10 about helping them with the plan.

``They were going to go the office, call an assembly, then go to the gym and shoot people,″ said Ranshaw, adding that he declined to get involved.

Another student, Dana Thomas, 12, testified that Fick told her the four were plotting an attack.

``Dan started a conversation about a Colorado repeat,″ she said. ``I figured they were just blowing off some steam because they were angry at their parents that day.″

Since the April 20 massacre in Littleton, Colo., dozens of schools nationwide have faced bomb threats and other copycat crimes.

The judge did not immediately rule on whether the boys should be tried.