Police say 17-year-old Derek Shrout is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who wanted to commit hate crimes at Russell County high school with homemade explosives.
Had his book of plans not been carelessly left where a teacher could find it, the sheriff says no one may have discovered the plot until it was too late.
"The journal contained several plans that looked like potential terrorist attacks, and attacks of violence and danger on the school. And in particular, there were six students specifically named, and one teacher," said Russell County sheriff Heath Taylor.
After the teacher who found his journal notified authorities, police searched his home and found dozens of tobacco containers filled with shrapnel and holes drilled for fuses. Investigators say Shrout was a step away from turning them into live grenades.
"These bombs are potential; they're not complete. So we don't want to indicate that he was ready to do something. It could have been a day later, potentially," said Taylor.
Police say they don't believe his parents had any idea this was happening. News Leader 9 contacted Shrout's mother at his Fort Mitchell home but she did not want to make a statement. When Shrout was interrogated by authorities, his explanation to them was that he had written a work of fiction and he never meant to carry out the plans in real life. The sheriff disagrees.
"It was obvious that he had put a lot of thought into this. It was obvious to us that there was more than just writing a story in a journal and it being fictitious," said Taylor.
Officials say the earliest entries in the journal were written three days after the massacre in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. They believe Shrout learned to make the explosives through Internet research.
"I mean it's crazy, I never thought something like that could happen at Russell County, I just thought that was something that happens everywhere else. It's crazy, you've got to worry about it still because maybe he has friends that were wanting to do it. You never know," said Russell County High student Quintin Hobbs.
"Man he could have got me in school if he wanted to. He could have got the whole school, just got all of us at once if he really wanted to. I'm glad it didn't happen here. I'm glad they got him before it happened," said fellow student Javon Rogers.
Shrout is currently in the Russell County Jail charged as an adult. He was arraigned Monday on felony charges of attempted assault. A judge set his bond at $75,000 with conditions.