No. 1 story: Waseca school shooting plot rattles town

Small decisions. Major impact.

Waseca teen John LaDue decided to cut through a waterlogged backyard on April 28 instead of using the nearby dry road.

This caught the attention of Waseca resident Chelsie Schellhas, since it was the yard to her residence. Listening to instincts she gained from having relatives in law enforcement, she decided to keep watching LaDue instead of returning to her TV show.

These two small choices potentially prevented a school massacre LaDue had been planning for 10 months. Schellhas observed LaDue stepping into a storage unit and closing it behind him. She called the police. The timing of the call allowed police to find LaDue in the unit, unarmed, with bomb-making material.

LaDue had been steadily amassing an arsenal of firearms and home-made bombs in a plot to kill his family, set a distraction fire and attack students at Waseca High School, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint said officers with the Bloomington Bomb Squad, who helped dispose of the home-made bombs, indicated they were shocked at the volume of explosive material LaDue had amassed. During the course of LaDue’s preliminary hearings, his 180-page manifesto about his plot was sealed but many dramatic details about his plans have been released in other filings.

Two other teenagers were also charged in connection with the incident for allegedly helping him test explosives. However, Waseca Police maintain that those teenagers were never aware of LaDue’s larger school shooting plot.

LaDue’s father David has maintained throughout the trial that his son, who was facing mental illness issues, would never have been able to actually carry out the alleged plot. He has also lobbied throughout the process to get his son increased access to mental health care. He got a victory last September when LaDue was moved to a Willmar facility that allows more professional mental health care.

The prosecution was seeking to charge LaDue as an adult. But those efforts were temporarily halted when Waseca County District Judge Gerald Wolf dismissed LaDue’s attempted murder and criminal damage to property charges, which carried presumptive adult sentences. LaDue’s possession of explosive material charges were not dismissed.