Two teenagers who allegedly planned a massacre inspired by the Columbine high school shooting have been arrested and charged. Police in Rochester, Indiana began investigating John Schultz IV, 18, and Donald Robin Jr., 17, based on an anonymous tip. They found numerous examples of the teens celebrating the 1999 tragedy while planning their own attack.
An Anonymous Tip
An unnamed informant tipped police off to the teens’ plans on July 13. According to documents, the tipster said Schultz and some of his friends had discussed carrying out a school shooting in their Rochester, Indiana hometown. The informant alleged that Shultz was waiting for school to re-open so he could “kill as many as they can and kill themselves just like Columbine.”
Responding to the tip, police looked at Schultz’s public Facebook posts, which led them to conversations between him and Robin referencing mass shootings. They found that on May 12, Schultz reportedly made a reference to the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People, which describes a shooting at a school. Police also found that both teens had changed their profile pictures to honor the Columbine shooters at various points.
Based on these findings, police obtained warrants to search the boys’ private Facebook correspondence. What they found indicated a shared obsession with the Columbine shooting, as well as explicit plans to commit a similar crime.
Obsessed With a Massacre
As far back as August of 2019, Robin discussed wanting to commit a school shooting. He told an unnamed friend on Facebook that he had previously planned an attack on his middle school, going so far as to bring his father’s AR-15 to campus before changing his mind in the parking lot.
Around the same time, a friend bought Robin a hat with a logo for industrial metal band KMFDM. “Can’t believe I’m buying you a school shooter hat but if it makes you happy,” the friend wrote in a message. Columbine shooter Eric Harris was pictured several times wearing a similar KMFDM hat.
In a conversation from April 20 of this year, the anniversary of the Columbine attack, Schultz reportedly contacted Robin to celebrate. “Alright we gotta chill its columbine anniversary,” Schultz wrote.
Police also found that Schultz and Robin took nicknames that the Columbine killers also used, and even had tattoos commemorating the shooting.
By the summer, the boys began to form concrete plans for a shooting, court documents show. In a June 21 conversation, Robin said, “I’m killing myself after I kill a bunch of people […] and we’re peacin’ out when we kill a bunch of human scum.”
Later, on June 29, Schultz discussed the plans with another unnamed friend.
“We are gonna do it. I wanna shoot up the school with [Robin],” Schultz allegedly wrote. “I want him to stay out of trouble till we can shoot up the place.”
Preventing a New Columbine
Police arrested the pair on August 31 following their investigation. According to Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs, the conversations are evidence of more than a morbid yet harmless fascination with the Columbine massacre.
“[A]nytime anyone’s obsessed with Columbine, yes, it’s a fine line between free speech and when you cross the line, but I think in this case, clearly what they had done was going to interfere with occupancy of a school,” Marrs said.
Both teens are now in police custody with no bail set. Schultz, 18, is being held at Fulton County Jail, while 17-year-old Robin is currently in juvenile detention. He will be transferred to the county jail when he turns 18 on August 29, reports WSBT.
Each teen faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder as well as intimidation. The latter charge carries a penalty of 6-18 months, while the conspiracy charge could result in a 10-30 year prison sentence.
“Anything like this, we’re going to take extremely seriously because I think history has shown us that sadly, these kind of things do get carried out,” Marrs said. “We’re not going to take it lightly.”