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Girls armed with knives plotted attack at Florida middle school, police say

Two students at Bartow Middle School, in Bartow, Florida, came to school with knives and planned to attack students Tuesday, according to the Bartow Police Department.

The school resource officer was alerted to a complaint about armed students around 1:30 p.m. Police said the girls planned to kill as many as 15 students. 

Police said school staff found the two girls in a bathroom during class time before carrying out their plans. They were arrested and removed from campus.

No one was hurt.

Police said school staff initially caught wind of the possible plot Monday when a student told a teacher that one of the suspects said not to come to a specific building of the school.

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In response, multiple Bartow police officers and Polk County deputies were on campus Tuesday.

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After first period, the mother of one of the suspects received a notice from the school that her daughter had not shown up for second period. Her mother called the school and said her daughter had been dropped off that morning, according to police. 

During a news conference Wednesday, Bartow Police Department Chief Joe Hall said that, upon receiving that call, Principal Christopher Roberts’ organized school staff and law enforcement to conduct a search of the school. 

Hall said Chandra Johnson, an assistant principal at the school, found the girls in a bathroom in the building another student said she was warned to avoid. Johnson also saw that the girls had a goblet, which she suspected contained alcohol in it.

Roberts asked school resource Officer Alexander Guzman to test the goblet for alcohol, authorities said.

Hall said the girls were brought to Roberts’ office, and one was asked to empty her pockets. When she did, school staff found a paring knife and a sharpener, Hall said. 

Staff asked the girl why she had a weapon, and she said she and the other girl were plotting to attack and kill as many students as they could, Hall said.

Police then searched the girls and found several more knives, including a butcher knife, Hall said.

Both girls told detectives they had been plotting to kill at least 15 people and had been hiding in the bathroom to wait for smaller students they could overpower to be their victims, police said. 

“They told us they were Satan worshipers,” Hall said. “They did make comments that they were wiling to drink blood and possibly eat flesh.”

Hall said he has not spoken to the girls’ parents.

Detectives said that during a search of one of the girl’s phones, they found a message that the girls planned “to leave body parts at the entrance” and then kill themselves. 

Bartow Police Department detectives are investigating the incident with the Polk County School Board.

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