John LaDue, 17, denies charges in Waseca school attack plot - KMSP-TV

Adult certification study ordered for Waseca teen in school attack plot

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WASECA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Waseca teen John LaDue made his first court appearance Monday morning and entered a "denial of charges" in response to the accusations that he plotted to kill his family and attack nearby schools with guns and bombs. 

MORE: Waseca teen's notebook reveals murder, school attack plot

Denying charges if the juvenile court equivalent of entering a not guilty plea, but prosecutors are pushing to try him as an adult. On Monday, the judge ordered a "certification study" to determine whether he should face adult charges. Due to the complexity of the case, the judge is also allowing up to 90 days to get it done. 

"It's a lot of diagnostic testing at this time to figure out where he is," Dawn Johnson explained. "He's a very intelligent young man; he got very good grades at Waseca, so I think he's going to be a little different than a typical juvenile inmate at Red Wing."

LaDue, 17, is charged with four counts of attempted murder and six counts of possessing a bomb after he told police he was planning to kill his family and attack Waseca Junior and Senior High School.

Instagram: LaDue arrives in court

LaDue was brought to th Waseca County Court from the juvenile detention center in Red Wing, which is where he has been staying since he was arrested on April 29 after a witness noticed him enter a storage facility. During a home search, investigators found numerous guns, ammunition, pipe bombs, a pressure cooker and gun powder -- everything needed to carry out the attack within the ensuing weeks.

On Monday, a judge ruled that LaDue will stay in Red Wing so that he can be close to his family despite prosecutors' requests to have him moved to Lino Lakes so that state psychologists could examine him at their convenience. The judge also ruled that LaDue will be allowed to wear street clothes to future hearings instead of a jail jumpsuit. 

LaDue has a private room at Red Wing and spends most of the day by himself. Since he's in a pre-trial status, officials are trying to limit how much he comingles with the rest of the population there.

LaDue's next court appearance is set for June 18, which is when defense attorneys will get a chance to challenge the evidence against him during the probable cause hearing. At that point, the judge is expected to schedule a July hearing to announce whether he will be tried as an adult.


According to the criminal complaint, LaDue started making his plan way back in July. A 180-page notebook outlined his plan to kill his family and then set a fire outside of town to divert authorities. He then planned to attack Waseca Junior and Senior High School with guns and set off numerous bombs during the lunch hour with the intention of killing as many as he could.

He didn't plan to stop there with plans to kill the school liaison officer and as many students as possible.

“Crazy that there's actually kids out in Waseca schools threatening to kill other kids and blow up schools and all that other stuff,” Waseca resident Damian Hanks said. “I'm speechless hearing about it.”

Fox 9 News spoke with LaDue’s best friend, Eddie Persell. He said he had gone to the gun range with LaDue but never suspected a thing.

“It's unfortunate he had to be thinking that way. I hope he gets the help he needs,” Persell said. “He’s a real close friend of mine. He's real smart. He has a lot of things going for him, unfortunately he took a wrong path, I guess.”

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