Police in Bartow, Florida say they arrested two middle school students Tuesday who brought butcher knives and a pizza cutter to the school and told detectives they wanted to stab more than a dozen students to death  "They told us they were Satan worshipers," said Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall at a press conference on Wednesday. "They made remarks that they were ready to drink blood and possibly eat meat."
The two pre-school children, ages 11 and 12, were enrolled at Bartow Middle School in sixth and seventh grade, respectively. The Washington Post generally does not identify adolescents charged with crimes unless they are brought to trial as adults.
Hall said that on Monday rumors had it that there were "problems" in middle school. As a result, additional officers were present at the school on Tuesday.
When the eleven-year-old did not attend the second lesson, her mother received a phone call telling her that her daughter was absent, Hall said The girl's mother contacted the school and said she believed her daughter was on campus, and caused the administrators to visit the campus.
A deputy director found the two girls hiding in a bathroom with a mug, Hall said she suspected that she might have been drinking alcohol and escorted them both to the headmaster's office.
When the headmaster Christopher Roberts ordered the 11-year-old to empty her bags, she handed a paring knife and a sharpener, Hall When asked why she had a gun, the girl said that she and the other student were planning to attack as many students as possible The 12-year-old and found several other knives and a pizza cutter in their possession. Hall did not specify what the purpose of the pizza cutter was
After being taken into police custody, the girls told the detectives that they wanted to kill at least 15 people and wait in the bathroom for an opportunity. They also said that they had planned to address smaller students who could easily overwhelm them, Hall said.
"I do not think that was a joke," said the police chief. "I believe that these two young children [ . . .] were sitting down seriously and wanted to seriously hurt another student at school."
The 12-year-old police found a hand-drawn map of the center On campus, the school said, "Go to the bathroom to kill." The officers ransacked the students' phones and found that they had complained about the suicide of classmates at the school's entrance. "Thanks to Satan we do that a bit," the 12-year-old wrote on Tuesday in a message on social media.
Police say they are unaware of their plan to parents of students who did not speak publicly about the allegations. "The girls are close friends who live nearby and spent the weekend together," Hall said.
"I do not think any of them was a leader," he added. "I think they were both together."
The two students are in custody and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a gun on the school grounds and disruption to a school campus. The prosecutors have not yet indicated if they are being prosecuted as teenagers or adults. On Wednesday evening, neither of the two children had presented a lawyer.
"When you grow up, you would see a possible life in prison," Hall said. "In that case, I think the state will intervene and try to make the best decisions for both the public and the two suspects."
Hall also noted that "some mental health issues could be addressed here."
Headmistress Jacqueline Byrd of Polk County Schools said at the Wednesday press conference that the district would request an expulsion of the students, and that they did not knew that the two students had some disciplinary issues.
Byrd I did not explain how the students could bring knives to campus, but described the district's precautions to thwart an attack. "The plan worked," she said.