PHILADELPHIA Dillon Cossey knew his online friend from Finland only as "sturmgeist89." They met two or three months ago through the YouTube video-sharing site and found they shared common interests: the Columbine school massacre, violent videos and video games.
They traded e-mail, exchanged posts on a Web site dedicated to the Columbine killers and likely chatted online, said Cossey's lawyer, J. David Farrell.
"They had discussed certain video games and shared videos with each other," Farrell said. "Obviously, Columbine was a shared topic of interest."
Cossey, who admitted plotting a school attack near Philadelphia, and Pekka-Eric Auvinen, who killed eight people and himself Wednesday in a high school in Finland, never talked about plans for any type of attacks, Farrell said.
Farrell said Cossey was "horrified" that Auvinen carried out the attacks. A rifle and other weapons were found in Cossey's home, but his attorney said he was living in a morbid fantasy world.
"My client didn't encourage him in any way," Farrell said. "He had no indication that somebody he was communicating with actually was formulating an intent to commit a violent act."
Farrell added that many nonviolent teens are drawn to the same things that brought Cossey and Auvinen together online.
"You can be sure that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of kids that are accessing these Web sites," he said.
Finnish police said material seized from the computer of Auvinen suggests the 18-year-old had communicated online with Cossey, 14, who was arrested in October for allegedly preparing an attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in suburban Philadelphia. The attack never took place.
Farrell said he showed Auvinen's online screen name to his client Monday and he remembered communicating with him over the Internet but didn't know his real name.
Auvinen killed six students, a nurse and the principal Wednesday in Tuusula, about 30 miles north of the Finnish capital, Helsinki. He then shot himself in the head and died hours later at a hospital.
Police in Finland said they had not yet been in contact with their U.S. colleagues about a possible link between the two teens.
In Pennsylvania, detectives were running the name of the Finnish shooter through the computer seized from Cossey, who admitted in juvenile court to planning an attack.
"We had heard when we first got this guy that he had contacted other people through Web sites," Plymouth Township Deputy Chief Joe Lawrence said. "We wouldn't be shocked by it."
Tipped off by a boy Cossey tried to recruit, Pennsylvania authorities searched his home last month. They found a rifle, about 30 air-powered guns modeled to look like higher-powered weapons, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack and violence-filled notebooks.
Montgomery County prosecutor Bruce Castor said he plans to announce today what investigators have culled from Cossey's computer.
Finnish investigators have said Auvinen left a suicide note for his family and foreshadowed the attack in YouTube postings. On Monday, Rabbe von Hertzen, a detective in the case, said Auvinen is believed to have written the suicide note on Nov. 5, suggesting he had planned the attacks for at least two days.
Police have described Auvinen as a bullied teenage outcast consumed with anger against society.
Cossey told a friend that he wanted to pull off an attack similar to Columbine. Prosecutors and Farrell have said he felt bullied.
Two weeks after his arrest, Cossey admitted to three felonies criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime in Montgomery County juvenile court. He is now in juvenile custody, where he could remain for up to six-and-a-half years.
Authorities have accused Cossey's mother, Michele, of helping him build his weapons stash. She is charged with illegally buying her son a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and the 9 mm semiautomatic rifle, which had a laser scope. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.
Farrell said he doesn't know whether Dillon Cossey had contact with other people who could pose similar threats, but planned to explore that possibility with investigators and his client.