And now William Poole has had his first day in court: “A chilling and sometimes violent account of a school takeover raised eyebrows during a hearing in Clark County District Court Tuesday afternoon. What’s still unclear is whether 18-year-old William Poole’s journal entries were a fictional story or details of a plan to recruit a gang to unleash an armed assault on George Rogers Clark High School.” This article from the Winchester Sun is worth reading, because the question staff writer Tim Weldon asks–were the writings “a fictional story or details of a plan”–receives a firm answer.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. “Detective Steve Caudill testified that neither teacher had any knowledge of what Poole had written and there was no mention of zombies in any of the writings.” No Shaun of the Dead fanfic to be found here. But if Poole’s writings weren’t part of a zombie story, then what did Poole write? I’ll excerpt several paragraphs:
In the overview to his writings, Poole wrote, “We will shut down all the other groups that come against us.” The only way to join the brotherhood, he wrote, “is doing something stupid.”
A separate story, titled “War” was described by Caudill as “futuristic,” and referred to a group of people sitting down at a kitchen table, where they plan a takeover of a school, determining how long it will take for police to arrive on the scene. “They will all die together,” Poole wrote.
Another excerpt, read by Caudill, states, “All the boys sit down at the kitchen table and start planning it out. They wrote down how many teachers, students and guards were at the high school. Also, how long it would take police to get there. They wrote down what was needed and how they was going to do it. They agreed right there they they would all die together.”
He continued, “They yelled, ‘kill them,’ and all the soldiers of Zone 2 started shooting. They are dropping every one of them. After five minutes, all the people are laying on the ground dead.”
Other documents, titled “Death of a Soldier” tells his family goodbye and list two separate dates for his death, Nov. 20, 2004, and Feb. 19, 2005. The latter date was three days before Poole was arrested.
When I read these five paragraphs, I get the sense that Poole’s writings were fiction. If Poole were planning a school takeover, why write the plan in a narrative format where it’s hardly useful? I see narrative here. Not good narrative, granted, but it’s still narrative. Zombies would have been a useful brightline to show the writings to be fictional, but the mere fact that Poole wrote a narrative should mark the writings clear enough as fiction, not a plan.
One last excerpt from the Sun’s article: “Poole told police that a teacher at [George Rogers Clark High School] read the piece called the ‘Overview,’ and warned that Poole could be in trouble if others at school saw it.” As The Student Press Law Center and other sources have pointed out, “Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of terroristic threatening in the second degree when they threaten to ‘commit any act likely to result in death or serious physical injury’ to students, teachers or employees of a school. ‘A threat directed at a person or persons or at a school does not need to identify a specific person or persons or school in order for a violation of this section to occur,’ the law reads.” Writing a story about a school takeover may be tasteless and Poole should be guilty of nothing more than extremely poor judgment in his choice of subjects, but under this law he could be facing draconian punishments for having the audacity to put the thoughts in his mind down on paper. In the post-Columbine universe we may find Poole’s thoughts repugnant and anti-social, but just from the excerpts read what Poole wrote marks itself clearly as fiction.
Poole is a persecuted writer, no ifs, ands or buts about it.