Handcuffed and with a smile beaming across his face, a 21-year-old electronic student was hauled into a Balearic court to face charges that he was planning on carrying out a Columbine-style massacre at the University of the Balearic Islands using some 140 kilos of explosives he had purchased via the internet.
The suspect, Juan Manuel Morales, who confessed to police his intentions, faces arms and explosives trafficking charges. A judge late Friday denied granting him bail and ordered him held until his trial.
According to sources quoted by EFE news agency, a Venezuelan journalist who lives in Japan alerted Spanish police about five months ago after he read postings on Morales’ blog. The journalist was conducting research on massacres at schools.
Morales was arrested on Wednesday morning at his home in Palma after receiving a delivery of the bomb-making materials. The suspect had just returned home from having a haircut when about a dozen officers surrounded him, according to neighbors.
Morales arrived at the Balearic courthouse where he gave a statement to Judge Enrique Morell, who has been conducting a secret investigation in the case for the past five months.
The Venezuelan journalist, who has not been identified, reportedly read posts on Morales’ blog in which he referred to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in which two students went on a rampage killing a dozen of their classmate, a teacher and wounding 23 others before committing suicide.
Teresa Palmer, the government’s delegate in the Balearics, said that Morales told police he had “total admiration” for the two boys that carried out the Columbine killings. She described him as “a very intelligent, introverted person, who frustrated with society’s problems and is likening for Nazi symbols.” However he hasn’t been identified with any political group, she said.