Meridian Star

July 12, 2013

Unsealed documents offer details of school threat

HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — The man who pleaded guilty to making online threats to attack a north Mississippi high school had researched how to make bombs, the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and serial killers, according to recently unsealed court records.

Joshua Brandon Pillault, 20, pleaded guilty on June 20 to making threats against Oxford High School in a chat room for an online medieval fantasy and role-playing strategy game called "Runescape." Another player reported the threats in October 2012.

A transcript of the online conversation was among the documents unsealed this week by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills.

"I can't wait to blow brains out of skulls," Pillault said, according to the chat log, using the account name "Paul Gilbert" and the login name "Merlan 91."

The chat logs said the attack would be carried out with guns, molotov cocktails and pipe bombs on April 20, 2013, which the online posts described as "national weed day," Adolf Hitler's birthday and the Columbine shooting anniversary.

The 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., were carried out by two students and left 13 people dead. Pillault also tried to download a game named Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a role playing game that allows players to recreate the Columbine attack.

Pillault's lawyer, Roy Percy, said in court records Pillault made the comments, but described them as "idle or careless talk, exaggeration or something said in a joking manner."

Percy had no comment on the case when contacted Thursday.

The judge recently ordered an evaluation to determine if Pillault needs mental health care and what options are available. The report is to be submitted to the court before sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

An FBI interview with Pillault, also unsealed this week, said Pillault dropped out of Oxford High School in October 2011 because of a drinking problem and he had also told an ex-girlfriend he wanted to attack the school.

Pillault "has always been interested in serial killers like John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer," according to the FBI interview on Oct. 10.

Pillault told the FBI agent he didn't remember making the online threats because he was drunk, though he "admitted that he probably wrote the threatening statements," according to the document.

In court filings before Pillault pleaded guilty, Pillault's lawyer had wanted to prohibit prosecutors from using evidence about his interest in the Columbine shooting, serial killers and research on making bombs.

Prosecutors responded at the time by arguing Pillault's lawyer was trying to exclude "the very evidence that would show that he in fact did fully intend to carry out the threat and was making preparations to do so."

The judge wrote he had decided to seal the documents "based primarily upon concerns that potential jurors might be prejudiced by media coverage of the case."

"That concern is no longer relevant, inasmuch as defendant has entered a guilty plea," Mills wrote in Monday's order.