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Georgia teen pleads guilty in plot to kill worshippers at Black church

By Shaddi Abusaid, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — A teenage girl who plotted to kill members of a predominantly Black church in Gainesville pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon and apologized for her actions.

Caitlyn Pye, now 17, was arrested last fall after authorities foiled her plan to attack worshippers at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

She entered a negotiated plea to one count of attempted murder and was sentenced to a juvenile justice facility until age 21, then a decade of probation, Hall County court records show.

Gainesville High School administrators learned of the plot last November after Pye's classmates told them she had a notebook containing "detailed plans to commit murder" at the church, authorities said. Drawings found in the notebook indicated the plot had been in the works for several weeks, according to police.

The administrators notified school resource officers, who launched an investigation and arrested the teen.

"Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members," Gainesville police Chief Jay Parrish said at the time.

Pye, who is white, collected knives and even the visited church last November, authorities said. Bethel AME typically held Bible study on Wednesdays, but fortunately, no events were planned that evening, the Rev. Michelle Rizer-Pool told AJC.com.

 

Prosecutors said Pye was a follower of Dylann Roof, the man who fatally shot nine congregants at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. Roof is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the racially motivated killings.

At her sentencing hearing Thursday, Pye apologized for her actions and told the judge she has changed since her arrest, Channel 2 Action News reported.

"I am very sorry," she said. "I want to let you know it was a mistake."

In addition to her sentence, Pye is prohibited from going near any AME churches in Georgia or contacting any of Bethel's members.

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