Zombie Attack and Terrorist Threats

Radley Balko links to a story about a high school student, William Poole, being arrested for, as the Poole says, writing a story about zombies. Yes, zombies. A good round-up of the story can be found here.

The police contend the story was much more. About how Poole wanted to start a gang called the “No Limits Soldiers” which would, apparently, have chapters in Clark County, Barbourville, South Carolina and…New York City. In short, Poole was trying to start a nationwide gang. The police detective in charge of the investigation read disjointed parts of the story to the grand jury,

Another excerpt, read by Caudill, states, “All the boys sit down at the kitchen table and start planning it out. They wrote down how many teachers, students and guards were at the high school. Also, how long it would take police to get there. They wrote down what was needed and how they was going to do it. They agreed right there they they would all die together.”

He continued, “They yelled, ‘kill them,’ and all the soldiers of Zone 2 started shooting. They are dropping every one of them. After five minutes, all the people are laying on the ground dead.”

This is so out of context I don’t know if it is part of a zombie story, part of a story about taking over a school, both or what. I do note that it is written in the past tense…a bit unusual for an action plan about something in the future.

Nowhere in Poole’s writings did he refer to a specific school. It also did not list any specific targets, making only general references to teachers, students and school security.

So we have a detailed plan with no specifics. Have we got that straight? No actual teachers, students, schools, police….in short nothing is actually being targeted. This is the cause for concern or is it Poole’s mediocre writing that what scared everyone?

According to Caudill, Poole told police that a teacher at GRCHS read the piece called the “Overview,” and warned that Poole could be in trouble if others at school saw it. Consequently, Poole reportedly told police that he left his writings at home. The teacher told Caudill he did not see any of the journal entries that police confiscated.

So the mastermind of a nationwide gang is…what warning one of his possible targets? And keep in mind the police essentially lied to the media about this as well.

In court Tuesday, police released some of Poole’s writings, and they contradict some of what he told LEX 18 in his interview. Poole says he wrote the short story for English class. Not so, according to police. They say his teachers deny knowing about such writings, and add if they did, the teachers would have reported their concerns about the contents to school officials.

So which is it? Teachers saw none of his writings or saw some of the writing and warned him the material is not appropriate for a school newsletter?

Eventually Poole was not charged with a second degree felony, terrorist threatening, but the Grand Jury did return an indictment of attempting to make terrorist threats, a class A misdemeanor. Poole then pled not guilty and his public defender filed several motions for dismissing the charges ranging from the sheer absurdity of it all (how does one attempt to make a threat, open your mouth say, “Uhhhh….” and then close your mouth?), also that the charge is constitutionally vague, and a final motion to drop the bail, for a misdemeanor, from $75,000 to a more reasonable level. The judge in the case finally dismissed all charges. However Poole was on probation for 2 years which is a bit disturbing. Poole committed no crime, but was placed on probation.1

And here is the last disturbing part of the story,

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Note the highlighted part. Technically speaking all the articles about this case in Kentucky are illegal. News articles about the Columbine massacre would also be illegal. The people who wrote them could all be arrested and charged with a second degree felony of making terrorist threats against a school. Zero tolerance is indeed for those who have zero intelligence.
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1The reason why Poole was put on probation was because he violated the terms of his initial probation, but that probation for a crime that didn’t exist. In other words, Poole was violating the desires of a judge and for that he gets 2 years of probation.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Government
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Billy says:

    In other words, Poole was violating the desires of a judge and for that he gets 2 years of probation.

    It’s called “contempt of court.” Like it or not, at least it’s a crime on the books.

  2. tom p says:

    And I thought the probation was for being a Democrat masquerading as a terrorist… Oh wait a minute, they are the same thing. Never mind.

    We are a caricature…

  3. Michael says:

    This is the cause for concern or is it Poole’s mediocre writing that what scared everyone?

    Can we, as a nation, really afford another Dan Brown?

  4. sam says:

    Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

    I suspect that’s just poorly worded. I think what he meant to say is something along the lines of possessing matter that involves making a threat to a school, etc. But even if that’s what he did mean, it’s not at all clear, on the facts alleged, that Poole ran afoul of Kentucky law. Evidently, the relevant law states a person is guilty of terroristic threatening in the second degree when they threaten to “commit any act likely to result in death or serious physical injury” to students, teachers or employees of a school. From what I’ve seen of the “writings”, none of the foregoing applies. The entire proceeding was bogus.

    One wonders what the reaction would have been had they encountered a young William Golding and his first draft of Lord of the Flies.

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    sam,

    Well at least on this topic we can agree.

    Michael,

    Hell no!

    Billy,

    Yes that was it exactly, contempt of court. Of course a $75,000 bail is just amazingly dumb.

  6. Billy says:

    Of course a $75,000 bail is just amazingly dumb.

    No arguments here. Everything about this “zero tolerance” business is amazingly dumb.

  7. Dutchgirl says:

    I guess this whole mess was a better-safe-than-sorry affair. Many perpetrators of school schootings also wrote fantasies of violence or kept notebooks full of plans, so therefor anyone with such material is suspect? But this case is just ridiculous, why were police even involved? There comes a point at which school official’s paranoia starts to effect student expression, and that is a blow to the educational development of young minds.

  8. just me says:

    Well I suspect we will soon see an end to the encouragement of creative writing in schools.

    It is one thing if you have a list and a note that says you intend to kill people.

    It is another if you write a completely fictional story that involves a school setting written by a teenager who spend more than 50% of their waking hours at a school. School is what they know.

    I hate zero tolerance, and maybe common sense should be excersized a bit more readily.