Derek Shrout, a 17-year-old student at Russell County High School, was arrested on Friday after a teacher found a journal which contained plans to attack at least six specifically named students and one teacher. The journal was written by Shrout. Upon reading the journal, the teacher turned it over to a school administrator who then contacted Officer Tommy Morrison, the school's resource officer.
Russell County Sheriff, Heath Taylor, told the Ledger-Enquirer
"The teacher could have just discarded the journal but didn't. The system worked and thank God, it did. We avoided a very bad situation."
Officer Morrison questioned Shrout about the journal, with Shrout claiming the plans were meant to be fictitious. However, a search of Shrout's homes reveled several tobacco cans with a hole drilled into each can. The cans contained pellets which would have acted as shrapnel if the cans had been detonated. No black powder was recovered and no fuses had been attached to the cans when they were discovered.
Taylor said the cans would have acted as grenades once completed, telling WTVM
"These bombs are potential; they're not complete. So we don't want to indicate that he was ready to do something. It could have been a day later, potentially. "It was obvious that he had put a lot of thought into this."
Shrout's family moved to Alabama from Kansas after being stationed at Fort Benning last year.
Shrout, a member of the JROTC and self-proclaimed white supremacist, had been seen giving Nazi salutes at the school. His JROTC commander, 1st Sgt. David White, told WSFA
"Why would you want to go to a school and blow it up? You know you're going to hit somebody else; you're not just going to, in particular, hit one person. You're going to injure more than one."
Shrout, who is charged as an adult, is due to appear in court Monday on charges of felony attempted assault. It is unclear at this time if officials plan to charge Shrout with a hate crime.