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Teen accused of plotting to attack Black church sentenced to four years in juvenile facility

The Hill logo The Hill 10/25/2020 Marina Pitofsky
a yellow sign with black text: Teen accused of plotting to attack Black church sentenced to four years in juvenile facility © The Hill Teen accused of plotting to attack Black church sentenced to four years in juvenile facility

A 17-year-old girl who was accused of plotting an attack against a predominantly Black church was sentenced to four years in a juvenile facility and probation on Thursday.

The teenager, who is white, was arrested and charged last year after law enforcement officials discovered her alleged plan to attack parishioners of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Ga., with knives.

She pleaded guilty to one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony on Thursday, CNN reported.

She offered an emotional apology to the members of the church in court, saying "I'm truly sorry for what I've done," according to the outlet.

The teenager's sentence includes 10 years of probation, as well as court-ordered counseling and a mandated apology letter to the church, in addition to her sentence time. She will remain in custody until her 21st birthday.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, the presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, said in a statement, "While we are angered and frustrated by this incident, we do not hold hostility against this defendant. While she apparently hates or hated us, we do not hate her, and do not wish to nullify her future, and do not give up on her," CNN reported.

The girl's alleged plan was thwarted after school resource officers at Gainesville High School were notified by school officials "of a white female juvenile's plan to cause harm to multiple people of a local church," Gainesville police said in a statement at the time.

Students at the school also told school counselors that the girl's notebook allegedly contained "detailed plans to commit murder at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church." She had also reportedly procured knives to carry out the attack, and she had visited the church twice last November.

Before her arrest, the teen also had a t-shirt that read "Free Dylann Storm Roof" that had swastikas drawn on its sleeves, CNN reported. "I do believe myself to be a white supremacist" was also written on one of the teen's shirts.

Roof killed nine people during Bible Study at an AME church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

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