The alleged plot is "definitely racially motivated," says Sgt. Kevin Holbrook of the Gainesville Police Department. The notebook, he said, contained a manifesto that discussed how she wanted to attack black parishioners with butcher knives and other sharp sharp weapons.
"There was a lot of writing and drawing, different images and a lot of hateful messages in it," Holbrooke told The Washington Post. "As for the details, they were reduced to very specific information."
Police said the girl had been researching African-American churches online, choosing the Bethel AME church since she was small. Investigators believe she went to church at one point earlier this month, possibly to carry out the attack, but police said the building was empty.
"By pure grace, the church did not have a service tonight," Holbrook said. "We were very lucky here."
The teenager is being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville. Police did not release her name Tuesday.
The girl's arrest comes as black churches and other worship houses across the country face a wave of violence and intimidation perpetrated by alleged white supremacists and other extremists.
Earlier this year, three historically black churches in St. Landi Parish, Larissa, were burned for 1
0 days, with authorities claiming they were racially assaulted.
Extremist assailants have also targeted Jewish institutions in increasing numbers, according to hate groups. Last October, a gunman left traces of anti-Semitic social media posts before fatally shooting 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Just last month, authorities arrested a self-proclaimed white supreme man who allegedly planned to blow up a historic synagogue in Colorado as part of a "racial holy war."
Georgia is one of four U.S. states that do not have a formal hate crime. laws on their books, which makes it unclear how the alleged racist nature of the conspiracy against the Gainesville church would lead to the case against the teenager.
"While we are very concerned about this incident, we are not surprised," Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, head of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, said Tuesday in the Atlanta Constitution.
"Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have been on the rise for many years," Jackson said, "but it's a pity. we can't get this perpetrator to be prosecuted for hate crimes in Georgia because there is no law for the books to deal with him. "
Church leaders have told local media that they believe the teenager idolized Dylan Roof, a self-described white supreme Cyst who fatally shot nine black parishioners in 2015 during a Bible study at the Episcopal Church of the Episcopal Church Charleston, SC Authorities said the roof was "self-radicalizing" online and writing manifests loaded with racist blacks. Roof was convicted of 33 federal hate crimes in December 2016.
"Thank God this plot was stopped before anyone was killed or injured," Jackson said.
Police said they believed the girl acted alone and that no other church was in danger.
The alleged conspiracy came to light on Friday when students of the teenager at Gainesville High School told counselors about her notebook, according to police. School officials investigated and then immediately referred the matter to authorities.
Police detained the teenager while she was at school and notified her parents. They also notified church leaders and provided security in the building, police said.
School Superintendent Jeremy Williams stated that the girl's alleged actions should not be reflected. on the school system.
"As a school system that celebrates our diversity, we are beyond stunned by recent development," he told CNN. "However, we are extremely proud that our students have been notified by the school administration of a possible out-of-school threat." she is
Bishop Jackson told the constitution magazine that she wanted to see the girl who was tried as an adult. "Planning this type of event," he said, "is not a child's mind."