A Kentucky man who bought an AR-15 rifle that authorities alleged he planned to use to open fire at his former high school in 2018 was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.
The attack on Shelby County High School never occurred. Dylan Jarrell, now 22, was arrested in October 2018 after a New Jersey woman tipped off police to harassing Facebook messages, authorities said at the time.
Before that in 2018, Jarrell, who had attended the high school, posted on the website Reddit statements in all caps like, “RIP Dylan and Eric” and “Im about to do it better than Cho,” according to a plea agreement.
Those were references to Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Virginia Tech mass shooter Seung-Hui Cho, prosecutors said.
Jarrell bought the rifle in August 2018. He also had a “bump stock,” which allows semi-automatic weapons to fire much faster, as well as ammunition and body armor.
Jarrell pleaded guilty in November to transmission of a threatening communication in interstate commerce; cyberstalking; false statements to the FBI; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Jarrell’s attorney, reached by email late Wednesday, declined to immediately comment due to the lateness of the hour.
The attorney, Matthew W. Boyd, wrote in court documents that Jarrell suffers from mental illness, and that “his drive to commit to his criminal plans was weak at best.”
Robert M. Duncan, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said in a statement that the investigation by the FBI and Kentucky State Police “almost certainly saved lives.”
Prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that Jarrell had taken steps to carry the plan out.
Jarrell told the FBI that he intended to target an administrator and a teacher who he felt had treated him unfairly, but a draft media statement he’d prepared signaled he wanted to carry out “the worst school shooting in modern history,” prosecutors alleged in the document.
Boyd wrote in court documents that while Jarrell “fantasized” about the shooting, “his actual capacity to follow through on these plans was negligible.”
Boyd also wrote that Jarrell has struggled with issues that include depression, anxiety, paranoid schizophrenia and alcohol abuse.