It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another school shooting in the news. The story follows a simple pattern: an angry kid gets their hands on a firearm and takes it to a school to shoot strangers as a twisted sort of “revenge” against society.
Even though it’s become relatively common, school shootings will never stop being heart wrenching tragedies. But in the aftermath of one school shooting, investigators would uncover something that was even more disturbing than a “lone wolf” shooter…
Featured photo credit: Facebook
As a young boy, Jesse was pretty typical. He grew up on his family’s chicken farm in Townville, a rural South Carolina, about 40 miles to the southwest of Greenville. He went camping with his grandparents, loved the movie “Frozen” and reading about history, and told his parents that he wanted to fly to space one day.
Sports and Parties
Jesse was the kind of kid who did well in his classes and hardly ever got into trouble. He got invited to other kids’ birthday parties and played catcher on a rec-league baseball team. But when Jesse began middle school in a neighboring county, he began to display another side…
It was in middle school that Jesse began to harm animals. He pulled the legs off of crickets, smashed frogs against the ground, and would routinely watch one particular video of kittens being mutilated. It was all a result of his being bullied, Jesse said.
Not only was he harming animals, Jesse was also posting videos about Columbine on his Instagram account. After one kid poked his chest, Jesse threatened him saying “When I come back with a rifle, you’re going to be the one that I shoot.” Seeing the fear in the other boy’s eyes excited Jesse…
Armed and Dangerous
Then one day, Jessie took things to another level when he brought a hatchet and a machete to school in his backpack. When another student saw the weapons and reported him, Jesse was expelled and arrested. He served a short period of time in a juvenile detention facility before being placed on probation.
Jesse was homeschooled after that incident. According to his mother, he was becoming increasingly difficult to raise. His older siblings had moved away and without school, Jesse spent most of his time alone in his room, playing first-person shooter video games, scouring the internet for information on firearms, and posting comments on YouTube videos about guns and mass shootings…
Then one morning, Jesse crossed another line, this time going from “troubled kid” to “killer.” On the morning of September 28th, 2016, Jesse said his father “started fussing” at him, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Jesse Osborne went upstairs and got his father’s handgun and shot his father 3 times, including once in the head, killing him.
“I Hate My Life”
Jesse then took the keys to his father’s truck and drove to the nearby Townville Elementary School where he crashed the vehicle into the school playground’s fence. He got out of the car, repeatedly shouting “I hate my life,” then hopped the fence into the playground…
Once he’d hopped the fence Jesse Osborne opened fire in the playground. “I shot one round at a teacher. And then it jammed. and then I shot again,” he would say when later interviewed by the police. “It jammed again every time. And I thank God for that. Please say no one died. Did anyone die?”
Going to Hell
In total, Jesse had fired 4 shots, hitting a teacher and 2 students though only one, 6-year-old Jacob Hall would die from his wounds. “Once I finally figured out I’m going to hell for this,” Jesse said, “I threw the gun away.” Crying and screaming, Jesse called his grandparents to tell them what happened. Seconds later, he was apprehended by a volunteer firefighter…
No One Likes Me
Jesse told police that he didn’t have a problem with any of the students or staff at the school but was instead lashing out at the school system in general. “No one liked me there. No one ever likes me. Every school I’ve went to I’ve been bullied.”
Get It Out Of The Way
Jesse volunteered all of this information to police willingly and without hesitation after telling them he wanted to get his confession “out of the way.” But perhaps more terrifying than what he had done was what he told police about what he’d done leading up to the attack…
“There’s this group on my Instagram,” Jesse said. “It’s private and there’s this group of random people and they, like, told me they were my friends and stuff. And they said they were my friends and stuff.” The group was made up of teenagers from “Manhattan, Germany, and England” who all talked about “shooting up their schools.”
Months of Planning
According to Jesse, he had been plotting to carry out a larger massacre for months. He talked with them about how he could gain access to his father’s gun safe, including using a particular kind of dish soap that would glow under black light, which would show where his father’s finger print’s had been…
“My plan,” Jesse told the group, “is shooting my dad getting his keys getting in his truck, driving to the elementary school 4 mins away, once there gear up, shoot out the bottom school class room windows, enter the building, shoot the first class which will be the 2d grade, grab teachers keys so I don’t have to hassle to get through any doors.”
“I think I’ll probably most likely kill around 50 or 60,” Jesse declared. “If I get lucky maybe 150.” In order to kill that many people, Jesse was planning on constructing several pipe bombs and was saving up to purchase a semi-automatic AR-15, the controversial firearm that is sometimes at the center of the debate over gun regulations in the US…
Jesse’s internet friends cheered him on and encouraged him when said things like “I HAVE TO BEAT ADAM LAZA,” a reference to the Sandy Hook killer he wrote just 9 days before the shooting. He had discussed going on a shooting spree at the middle school that had expelled him but ultimately decided on Townville Elementary because it was closer and had no armed security.
Fish in a Barrel
Jesse decided he would kill kids he didn’t know and never met, “before they bully the nobodies.” He told his online friends “It’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel.” Perhaps it was a good thing that rather than being patient, Jesse “snapped.” He told police he couldn’t hold back the urge to kill his father, who he described as drunk and abusive, causing him to act before he was fully prepared…
The identities of the people Jesse was talking with online remain unclear at this time. For obvious reasons, the FBI has remained tight-lipped about their investigation into the group or whether or not they have tracked any of them down, citing Jesse’s open case.
At the time of this writing, Jesse is awaiting trial on charges of murder for the deaths of his father and Jacob Hall as well as 3 charges of attempted murder and 5 counts of possessing a weapon. If found guilty of the charges, he could face up to life in prison.