One of two high school students accused of plotting an attack on a Jacksonville private school campus reportedly used the dark web to research how to make a bomb. The two boys, who have since been expelled from the school, were caught up in a heated argument that resulted in a fight ending with both being hospitalized. After the fight, the school authorities looked into the teens’ earlier activities to learn what had caused the quarrel. The administration’s investigations resulted in the discovery of past conversations between the boys that indicated they had intentions of creating violence on the school campus.
17 year old Grant Shirley from Port St. Lucie and 15 year old Matthew Guey from Huston were resident students at the San Jose Campus of the Bolles School. Shirley and Guey were very close friends and were always spotted together in the school environs. On the night of the 18th of February, the two friends got into a fight that resulted in their hospitalization in the River Point Hospital. After the fight, the school administration engaged the school’s security personnel in an inquest dedicated to learning what caused the argument between the two close friends. During the investigation, the school’s security personnel came across the pair’s past conversations which indicated they planned an act of violence against the school.
In response to the discovery, the school’s administration immediately expelled the boys from the school and reported the matter to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The teens were first taken to a mental health facility. After being taken from the mental health facility, the teens were then placed under police custody in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on the 19th of February. After Shirley’s and Guey’s incarceration, investigators with the Sheriff’s Office carried out further investigations against the teen’s plot and, with the help of the school’s security personnel, searched for any weapons that the boys may have had in their possession hidden in the school’s premises.
On the 25th of February, the pair was presented in the juvenile court and charged with conspiracy to create, possess, situate or release a destructive device. The prosecution disclosed to the court that further investigations into the teen’s plot had led to the discovery that one of them had been visiting dark web sites and researching how to make napalm bombs. Napalm bombs were prepared by mixing a gelling agent with gasoline and could easily burn down structures and cause fatal burns on victims. The prosecution did not disclose neither the boy who carried out the research nor the dark web sites visited in the course of the research. After the hearing, Judge Suzanne Bass released the pair under the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. The teens will be placed under twenty-four hour supervision by their parents coupled with constant monitoring by the local LE. Shirley and Guey will also not be allowed into any campus or event of the Bolles School.
Following the boy’s release, the school’s headteacher, Tyler Hodges, addressed the parents through a letter that disclosed no weapons were found in any of the school’s campuses by either its security personnel or the sheriff’s office investigators. Hodge also assured the parents that the school’s security personnel would work hand in hand with LE to ensure the school is secure.
Shirley’s and Guey’s intent to use the dark web to cause harm to others can be easily compared to that of 18-years-old Ali David Sonboly who acquired a gun and ammunition through the dark web and used it to carry out the Munich shooting in 2016. Sonboly used bitcoin to purchase a Glock 17 hand gun and 350 rounds of ammunition from a dark web weapons vendor. Days after acquiring the weapons Sonboly went on a shooting spree killed nine people and injured 16 others before killing himself.