When I heard the news, I was shocked because they didn't seem like those kinds of kids. —Alex Gregory, student
ROY — Joshua Hoggan's Twitter feed is rife with references to flying. The 16-year-old is described as smart, conceited and preppy by friends, and he enjoys a video game called "Ace Combat: Assault Horizon."
His friend Dallin Morgan, 18, was described as quiet and independent, but few students contacted Thursday at Roy High School had much to say about him.
That all changed when word spread Thursday that the pair were arrested the previous night on suspicion of seeking "revenge on the world" by plotting to plant explosives at the school, kill fellow students at a school assembly and then escape in a stolen plane from an Ogden airfield.
The plan was thwarted by a student who saw threatening text messages and alerted school authorities. They then contacted police who searched the school and the students' homes, finding credible evidence of the plot, but no explosives.
"The plan was to use an explosive device during a school assembly, which targets a lot of people," said Roy police spokeswoman Anna Bond.
Investigators weren't sure when the duo planned to detonate the explosives or what their exact motive may have been. But it does not appear the students were focusing on any specific people, Bond said.
In text messages Hoggan sent, the teenager warned one friend, "If I tell you one day not to go to school, make damn sure you and (name redacted) are not there," according to a police affidavit filed Thursday in 2nd District Court.
"Dallin is in on it," another text message said. "He wants revenge on the world, too."
In another text, Hoggan allegedly wrote: "I've just been kinda planning my get back at the world thing and I figured if you had anyone you wanted revenge on, I could see if I have anything planned."
Within an hour of reviewing the text messages, police took the students into custody and learned more about the alleged plot.
Hoggan told Roy police officer Tyler Tomlinson, who works as a resource officer at Roy High School, that he was fascinated with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and had even gone to Colorado to interview the school's principal about it. Tomlinson confirmed that Hoggan went to the Littleton high school on Dec. 12 for the interview, the affidavit states.
"Joshua told me he was offended that he was compared to the Columbine killers," Tomlinson wrote. "Joshua was offended by the fact that those killers only completed 1 percent of their plan and he was much more intelligent than that.
"Joshua explained to me that he could complete his plan due to how intelligent he is."
Morgan also "admitted to being part of the plan," Tomlinson wrote.
Police believe the pair developed an elaborate plan to attack the school and escape afterward.
"They had absolute knowledge of the school's security system and layout," Bond said.
School administrators also found a map of the school that outlined where the school's cameras and blind spots are located.
"The mapping was an attempt to identify where all of the security systems for the school were, how they function, what they might or might not see," Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham said.
Hoggan and Morgan had also purchased an advanced flight-simulator computer program and "logged hundreds of hours" on it, according to Bond. Investigators uncovered evidence that the two were learning to fly because they intended to steal a plane from the Ogden Hinckley Airport after the attack and "fly to a country that they couldn't be extradited from."
"We ain't gonna crash it, we're just gonna kill and fly our way to a country that won't send us back to the U.S.," Hoggan allegedly wrote in another text.
Hoggan conveyed in text messages that it was "life" and a "huge ass backstory that makes me hate people" that prompted the plan, according to the affidavit.
"Another reason is that I just don't care," read another text message. "I'm pretty much a lying, cheating manipulator with everyone except seven people. Everyone else is just a piece."
Roy police executed search warrants — two on Morgan and Hoggan's homes, and two on cars connected to the pair. No explosive devices were located, Bond said.
"But we definitely have reason to believe that they built (explosive devices) in the past," Bond said.
Morgan told police Hoggan had previously made a pipe bomb using gun powder and rocket fuel. "Dallin told me that Joshua bragged about using a bomb to blow up a mail box and having three handguns in his house," Tomlinson's affidavit states. "Joshua claimed that he did not have the guns but Dallin was the source of the guns because he is 18 and can purchase a gun."
FBI forensic computer technicians were examining computers taken during the searches. Local and federal agents, dogs and bomb technicians also searched Roy High School, but no explosives were found.
"We had a lot of resources and we spent probably two and a half hours looking at every potential nook and cranny we could find," Whinham said. "There was nothing (found) in the school that was in any fashion harmful."
Morgan was booked into the Weber County Jail for investigation of conspiracy to commit mass destruction. Hoggan was taken to the Weber Valley Detention Center, a juvenile facility, for investigation of the same crime.
Police began investigating the case Wednesday after receiving a tip from a "heroic" student who notified school administrators about the threatening text messages, Bond said. She did not release the name of the student.
"They possibly saved a lot of lives," Bond said.
Weber County School District spokesman Nate Taggart also had high praise for the student and for teachers and administrators who were able to aid the student.
"We commend the student who first reported their concerns and hope that any student who finds themselves in that situation would do the same thing," Taggart said. The student did not provide the names of the two suspects, but provided enough information to lead police and administrators to Morgan and Hoggan.
The school district has never before encountered a threat as serious and detailed as this one, Taggart said.
Hoggan, whose Twitter handle is Heil_Hoggan, tweeted about video games and the military, including one tweet from October that said he should join the military because "that way you can blow (expletive deleted) up."
Alex Gregory, 17, a senior at Roy High, said he lives in the same neighborhood as Hoggan and returned home from a trip to Subway Wednesday night to a number of police cars in front of Hoggan's house.
"As time went on, more cops showed up in unmarked cars. There were dogs all over the place," Gregory said. "As the night was almost over, (police were) carrying a couple of boxes out of his house."
The teenager said he didn't suspect then that the police activity had anything to do with Hoggan or his school. It wasn't until an officer speaking in a law enforcement class mentioned a bomb threat at the school that Gregory pieced it all together.
"When I heard the news, I was shocked because they didn't seem like those kinds of kids," Gregory said of Hoggan and Morgan. "Josh — he kind of hangs out with more of the preppy crew. He was really smart. I would expect him to be the next Albert Einstein, not a bomber."
He said he had an auto shop class with Morgan, but didn't know him as well.
"Dallin ... was a little bit more to himself — very independent more of a quiet kid," Gregory said. "It didn't seem like he really had any close friends, so Dallin would be ... I would see that coming out of Dallin more than Josh."
Bailey Gerhardt, 16, said she thought Hoggan was the kind of person who cares for others, but changed her mind months ago when he refused to take her and her friend home after a trip to a haunted house. They felt they were held against their will and said they contacted police.
"It was very scary," she said. "Me and her were terrified. He says it was supposed to be a joke, but (I) didn't perceive it to a be a joke."
Later, she said he started talking about a trip to Denver he took to learn more about the shooting at Columbine. The more she got to know him, the more she said she felt uneasy.
"I'm not really surprised, it's more of, like, shocking that he got caught because he's not one of the types of people that would get caught, because he's like a mastermind," Gerhardt said.
Amanda Nunn, 16, who said she is an ex-girlfriend of Hoggan, said she never saw any violent tendencies in him. "He was really smart, really nice. He was very trustworthy," she said. "He was a really good kid. That's why I'm shocked that it was him and Dallin that were doing it."
Still, she said this incident has her worried.
"I'm scared, mainly because I knew Josh personally and it was a shock to me when I found out" about the alleged plot, Nunn said.
Gregory said the school's next assembly was scheduled for today, a "Mr. Royal" competition stemming from an upcoming dance. Hoggan, he said, would have been part of the tech crew placing microphones and filming.
Contributing: Peter Samore, Hunter Schwarz, Mike Anderson
Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam; GeoffLiesik
Hoggan's text messages:
Hoggan told a fellow student about his feelings during an exchange of text messages that were later submitted to police. The following were texts sent from Hoggan, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court:
"If I tell you one day not to go to school, make damn sure you and (name redacted) are not there."
"I get the feeling you know what I'm planning."
"It's not all me either."
"Dallin is in on it. He wants revenge on the world too."39 comments on this story
"Explosives, airport, airplane."
"We ain't gonna crash it, we're just gonna kill and fly our way to a country that won't send us back to the U.S."
"Life ... plus a huge ass backstory that makes me hate people."
"Another reason is that I just don't care. I'm pretty much a lying, cheating manipulator with everyone except seven people. Everyone else is just a piece."
"I've just been kinda planning my get back at the world thing and I figured if you had anyone you wanted revenge on, I could see if I have anything planned."