Teen talked about Columbine style assault
A student accused of plotting against Palisade High School admitted to investigators he had talked to others “about blowing up the school and going out in a blaze of glory like Columbine High School,” according to an arrest affidavit.
Robert Dell Johnson, 18, talked with three others at the school about, “what it would be like to shoot up” the school and admitted asking another student about obtaining explosives, the affidavit said.
“Robert told investigators that he does not like Principal Diers or Assistant Principal Bolenger,” the affidavit said.
In an interview with investigators, Johnson denied having access to firearms, although the boy’s father told investigators he came home one day in early September and found a gun case in their home unlocked.
“The father stated since he was suspicious Robert had gotten into the gun case, he told Robert that he was going to sell all six guns in a yard sale,” the affidavit said.
District Judge Valerie Robison on Thursday signed off on a motion to unseal Johnson’s arrest affidavit. The document had been secret since Johnson’s arrest Sept. 28.
Johnson is being held at the Mesa County Jail on $100,000 bond and is formally charged with felony solicitation to commit possession of an explosive or incendiary devise, plus misdemeanor interference with school operations.
Johnson’s alleged threat was brought to the attention of authorities the morning of Sept. 28, when a student at the school, Calvin O’Banion, came forward and claimed Johnson had approached him, asking how to get explosives for some “Columbine-type” activity, according to the affidavit.
Johnson, or “Bob,” on Sept. 18 allegedly asked O’Banion if he could get some “real explosives,” or if he knew how to make a bomb. “O’Banion said Bob talked about wanting to ‘go Columbine on Palisade,’” the affidavit said.
O’Banion told investigators he initially didn’t come forward with the alleged threat out of fear of retaliation.
On Sept. 25, O’Banion said he was approached a second time by Johnson and two other boys; the meeting happened in a car. During this meeting, Johnson specified he was after explosives such as “C-4 or dynamite,” the affidavit said.
O’Banion told investigators he decided to lie to Johnson in order to get more information from him. He told Johnson he had a cousin who might be able to get explosives.
“Bob did not give a specific date, but stated he already had guns,” the affidavit said. “O’Banion said he told Bob he needed to figure out how much dynamite he needed and (student) would find out the cost.”
Johnson allegedly approached a second boy about obtaining explosives, but the boy told investigators he didn’t think Johnson had the resources to obtain them. He did indicate he was concerned, “because Robert uses drugs and may react irrational under the influence of drugs,” the affidavit said.
A search of Johnson’s home and the homes of two of his friends, turned up no evidence of a written plot, weapons or explosives.
Johnson is scheduled to return to court later this month.