Two 13-Year-Olds Allegedly Had "Kill List" for Their Middle School

A sculpture of Sabin Middle School's bulldog mascot is on display outside the facility.
A sculpture of Sabin Middle School's bulldog mascot is on display outside the facility. Facebook
News that two thirteen-year-olds who allegedly compiled a "kill list" related to their middle school have been arrested in Colorado Springs hardly qualifies as shocking at this point. In the more than eighteen years since the April 1999 attack at Columbine High School, folks in the state have seen far too many instances of young students being arrested for alleged school threats and violent plots, as documented below.

The best-known of these incidents involved an alleged Columbine-style scheme against Mountain Vista High School circa December 2015 involving Sienna Johnson and Brooke Higgins, who were both sixteen at the time.

Higgins eventually submitted a guilty plea for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in adult court and solicitation to commit murder in juvenile court, resulting in a similarly mixed sentence that was imposed this past February; she was ordered to serve four years of supervised probation as an adult after completing a three-year Division of Youth Corrections sentence. The following June, Johnson was sentenced to five years in the juvenile system and four years of adult probation for a plan to turn Mountain Vista into what she described as "a living fucking nightmare."

As proof that this wasn't an isolated case, note that our original post about the Mountain Vista High School arrests also included a reported bust of a thirteen-year-old student at Mt. Garfield Middle School in Mesa County who was said to have made gun-related statements on social media. An affidavit in the case quoted the teen as saying, "I'm gonna go shoot up the school now."

And that's not all. In April 2015, a few months before the Mountain Vista and Mt. Garfield matters, we published an item whose headline speaks for itself: "Skinner Students Charged: 11-Year-Old Had Bomb, Suspected Hash and Coke."

click to enlarge A wider angle on Sabin Middle School. - GOOGLE MAPS
A wider angle on Sabin Middle School.
Google Maps
At times, law enforcement has been accused of overreacting to possible threats, as evidenced by our February 2011 item "Eleven-Year Old Arrested, Cuffed for Threatening Stick-Figure Drawing: Police Stand by Actions." But given the legacy of Columbine, authorities haven't taken much heat for the better-safe-than-sorry approach — and that is likely to prove true in the most recent story of its type.

On October 4, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department, the CSPD's school resource unit was alerted about alleged threats involving two male students at Sabin Middle School, located on a street whose name could hardly sound more benign: Carefree Circle North.

Before long, investigators say, they established that the thirteen-year-olds had put together the aforementioned kill list and were discussing how to eliminate the entries on it through "messaging" — texting, presumably. Those targeted are described as "parents/adults."

After the CSPD reached out to individuals on the list, they conducted off-campus searches and collected evidence, including firearms. And while the investigation is still active, the students have been arrested and booked on suspicion of inciting destruction of life or property and conspiracy, both felonies.

"This incident is an example of how important it is for parents to report even the most minor information to authorities," a department release stresses. "Our partnerships with parents and school districts are invaluable."

Anyone with additional information about the case is encouraged to contact the CSPD at 719-444-7000 or the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 7-19-634-STOP (7867). Click to read a letter to Sabin Middle School parents about the arrests.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts