REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — When detectives asked Hillsdale High School pipe bomb suspect Alexander Youshock what would have happened if his campus attack had been executed as allegedly planned, he replied, “I’d be dead.”
In San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday morning, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti played a two-hour video of Youshock’s interview with two San Mateo police detectives that was recorded on Aug. 24, 2009, in the hours after the defendant showed up at Hillsdale High armed with a chainsaw, 10 pipe bombs and a samurai sword.
Prosecutors allege Youshock intended to kill his former chemistry teacher and harm others at the school.
During the interview, detectives Rick Decker and Vince Dutto questioned Youshock about the primary motivation for his attack.
Youshock told them he was driven by hatred for his former adviser, lead principal Jeff Gilbert, and for his chemistry teacher, Meghan Spaulding, who the defendant said picked on him constantly and gave him an “F.”
Youshock, then 17, also said in the video that he was inspired by killings at other schools, including Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and a high school in Germany where a 17-year-old boy returned to his former campus and killed more than a dozen teachers and students in March 2009.
Youshock said he began planning the attack on Hillsdale High later that same month.
The defendant said he researched profiles of school shooters on Google, and he told Decker and Dutto that his own anger and antisocial behavior made him identify with the suspects in those killings.
“I noticed I was really similar to them,” Youshock said.
He told detectives that he planned the attack alone, and that no one – not even his mother who gave him a ride to a spot near Hillsdale High on the morning of the attack – knew what he had been planning.
Youshock recounted how he sold off parts of a drum set he had been given to raise money for supplies, including pieces of pipe, pipe attachments and a chainsaw he purchased at Home Depot.
A 10-inch ceremonial knife that the defendant wore in a scabbard hanging at his waist on the morning of the attack was a gift from his dad, Youshock said.
The detectives asked Youshock how he acquired the potassium nitrate, iron oxide and sulfur he used to make pipe bomb filler and how he constructed the bombs themselves.
“It’s really not that hard,” Youshock said.
Some ingredients he purchased for himself on eBay, and others his mom bought for him after he told her he was learning to make rockets as a hobby, he said.
Throughout his taped questioning, Youshock was cooperative and calm, drinking only a cup of water as he told the detectives exactly where they would find key evidence, such as incendiary chemicals and bomb diagrams that he had hidden in coat closets and a hollowed-out speaker in the San Mateo townhome he shared with his mother and sister.
The video showed Youshock willingly signing a “consent to search” form that was read aloud to him by Dutto.
He told the detectives that he had been suffering from bouts of anxiety and paranoia.
Youshock has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of exploding a destructive device with the intent to commit murder, one count of possession of a destructive device in a public place, one count of use of explosives in an act of terrorism, and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case Tuesday.
Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall maintains that Youshock suffers from schizophrenia, which prevents him from being able to premeditate and discern reality from fantasy.
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