It's been a crazy few days, Waseca Schools Superintendent Tom Lee told parents at a one-hour question and answer session Friday night. It was the first time he addressed the district's parents since 17-year-old John LaDue was arrested and charged in juvenile court with 12 counts, including four for attempted first degree murder.
According to court documents, LaDue told police he was planning to kill his family and as many students as he could with a number of homemade explosives and a collection of firearms and ammunition.
Superintendent Lee assured parents the threat has been removed and it's safe for students and staff to return to school Monday. Counselors and social workers will also be on hand.
"Imagine what it would feel like if there was an attack planned for your work environment," Lee said. "We have to remember schools aren't just places for kids, they're places for adults and it's a work environment for them and everyone needs to feel safe. So we're going to have to be vigilant and watch out for each other and for our students."
Kim Tischer's 's two teenage sons know LaDue. After the meeting,Tischer said her family's emotions rode a roller coaster over the last few days.
"Grateful, relieved, blessed. Scared, relieved, blessed, grateful. Very thankful. And still stunned and shocked that the call could very easily been something very different," she said.
A lot of the discussion revolved around what the district will do to enhance school safety in the weeks and months ahead. Some parents suggested adding metal detectors. Others said communication needs to improve between administrators and parents.
Tischer said she hopes officials weigh their options before making any drastic changes for students.
"I don't want them to feel like they're going through airport security," she said. "This is supposed to be a safe haven for learning. The purpose of this school is for learning. So my first reaction is, I think that's an overreaction."
According to the criminal complaint, LaDue said he would kill the three members of his immediate family and a school police liaison officer. He told police he had ammunition, guns and bombs in his bedroom and provided them with a key to his gun safe. At his home, police recovered seven firearms, ammunition and what they described as three functional bombs.
According to the criminal complaint, LaDue outlined his plans in a notebook and admitted he set off devices earlier this year in a school playground and a local church.
He allegedly referred to the Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook school shootings in his notebook, and idolized the Columbine shooters.
Thoughts of those high-profile school shootings have left Carisa Steele struggling to find the right words to comfort her 13-year-old son who's in seventh grade at the combined junior-senior high.
"He just said that his birthday was on Tuesday, that he almost didn't get to to have a 13th birthday," she said. "And that's heartbreaking for a parent. To think that your kids thinks of what could have happened."
School officials say the district already had school safety training scheduled for this summer. Some of that includes active shooter training with the Waseca Police Department.
Prosecutors in Waseca County have filed a motion asking that LaDue be charged as a adult. His hearing is set for May 12.
MPR News is reporting the name of the teen due to the severity of the charges and the high profile of events.