By MATT MILNER
An Ottumwa High School student has been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Police arrested Emily Kay Six, 16, Ottumwa, on Thursday. Officials said they began investigating after Six allegedly began trying to recruit students for what police called “a plan to harm a number of students.”
The charge is a Class D felony. Six was taken to a juvenile detention facility following her arrest.
Police Chief Jim Clark said Six’s plans were stopped before they could be acted upon. The investigation is ongoing, though, and Clark would not comment on whether others may have been aware of Six’s efforts.
He emphasized that police believe the threat is neutralized. “We believe there is no further threat,” he said. Family members have a very different view.
Michael Six, Emily’s father, said the family does not agree with the police characterization of her as a potential terrorist. He described a shy girl who enjoys church and hopes to become a veterinarian.
“If I did any volunteering anywhere, she would go with me,” he said.
Michael said there are five other students whom police investigated in the case and he believes Emily is being used by those students as a scapegoat. He characterized Emily as a follower, rather than an instigator.
Michael reviewed Emily’s Facebook page and her chats on it and what he read does not suggest she wanted to harm others. She was bullied, he said, but was not planning to hurt her fellow students.
“Out of everything that has been found so far, I’m not finding the stuff the police have found,” he said. “A lot of things aren’t adding up.”
Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl said the district and the police are cooperating closely.
Eidahl said he believes the discussions at the high school were “at the very early conversational stage.” But he did not rule out additional students being involved and said others were asked to participate. The district and police interviewed a number of students in their investigations and Eidahl said other students’ names did come up in the course of those discussions.
“Based on some of those interviews we will look at the depth … and possibility of how involved other students were in those conversations,” he said.
Eidahl emphasized that the threats against the school and students came to light because of the students themselves.