Classmates react to arrest of accused Russell County bomb maker
RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -
A Russell County high school teacher uncovered what is being called a terror plot when she found a misplaced journal in the classroom. Authorities rushed in discovered the beginnings of improvised explosives in the house of Derek Shrout, 17.
Police said he calls himself a white supremacist and he wanted to harm other students.
Classmates said they noticed a change in the suspect's behavior in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
Shrout moved to Alabama from Kansas a year ago with his military family now stationed at Fort Benning. The Russell County sheriff says Shrout was active in school and on the same day he was charged with planning a racially motivated attack on students, he was in the guidance counselor's office discussing his transfer credits.
"At first through JROTC, he was confident, well-rounded, but as time went by, he was doing the whole white power thing," said senior class president, David Kelly.
Kelly was also Shrout's battalion commander in the school's JROTC program. His friends said with the way he was acting around the school, they're not surprised he got himself into trouble.
"I saw that he was taking it more serious than anything, he started getting real deep into it, and he had a little group of people doing it with him. So, I thought it was getting to where I shouldn't be around it, so I started not even hanging out with him for a long time," said JROTC 1st Sgt. David White.
Kelly explained that Shrout would frequently give Nazi salutes at school. He said, "In the hallway, at breakfast, at the lunch tables, after school where we have our bus parking lot, he'd have his big old group of friends and they'd go around doing the whole white power crazy stuff."
Besides disagreeing with his views on white supremacy and wanting to harm other students, they question his intentions on the most fundamental level.
"Why would you want to go to a school and blow it up? You know you're going to hit somebody else; you're not just going to, in particular, hit one person. You're going to injure more than one," said White.
Sheriff's deputies found over 25 tobacco tins in Derek Shrout's house that they said he was in the process of converting into grenades. Authorities believe he was becoming involved with an organized neo-Nazi group and he learned how to make explosives through internet research.
In his statements to police, Shrout claimed his writings are a work of fiction and he never intended to go through with an attack on the school.
Shrout was arraigned Monday on felony charges of attempted assault. A judge set his bond at $75,000 with conditions. Shrout posted bail Monday evening.