- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police said a group of seventh-graders hatched an elaborate plan to cut off power and telephone service to their middle school, slay classmates and faculty with guns and knives, then escape from their small Alaska town.

Students were encouraged to return to school today with the assurance that police would patrol the halls after the arrest Saturday of six seventh-graders and the suspension of nine others.

“We’re going to have school,” said Principal Ernie Manzie. “We feel that all the students involved are not at school, so we feel it’s safe.”

The town of 1,600 people is about 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks in Alaska’s interior and is home to many military families from nearby Eielson Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Wainwright.

The Alaskan seventh-graders, whose names were not released, had been harassed by other students and wanted to seek revenge, Police Chief Paul Lindhag said. They also disliked staff and other students, he said. The students had planned to disable North Pole Middle School’s power and telephone systems, allotting time to kill their victims and flee from town, Chief Lindhag said.

A parent alerted police to rumors of an attack, Chief Lindhag said. He would not elaborate on the case, or what kind of documented evidence led to the arrests, although he did say a child told the parent that rumors were circulating about the purported plot.

The students who were arrested “are the ones who had major roles in this,” Chief Lindhag said. “All our information came through our interviews.”

The students, who were being held at the Fairbanks Youth Facility, face charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, authorities said.

“We feel very thankful that a student felt they could talk to an adult, and very thankful that the adult had the wisdom to contact the North Pole Police Department,” said Wayne Gerke, an assistant superintendent with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

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