By Mark Ellis —
A 17-year-old boy was arrested after he confessed to stabbing a 13-year-old boy to death on his birthday and attempting to kill two others at a sleepover party in Palm Beach, Florida on March 11th.
Corey Johnson is in juvenile detention while authorities decide if they will try him as an adult in the murder of Jovanni Sierra, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Johnson said he was motivated to stab the victims because of his Muslim faith, police reported. Johnson was charged with murder and attempted murder.
He spent the night at the home of Elaine Simon and her son Kyle Bancroft, in a gated community known as Palm Beach gardens, according to The Post.
On Sunday night the group went for pizza with the birthday celebrant, Jovanni, and his friends.
Corey and Kyle watched a violent ISIS video together that night. Corey got up at about 4 am and decided to kill Bancroft’s mother Elaine, her son Kyle, his younger brother Dane, 13, and the birthday boy, Jovanni, in their sleep.
First, he stabbed Jovanni and slit his throat.
Elaine woke up because she heard Jovanni’s agonized groans and rushed upstairs to investigate. She was startled when she came upon Corey, who brandished the knife, jumped on top of her, and stabbed her about 12 times.
Younger son Dane ran in to protect his mother and pushed Corey off. During the fight that ensued, Corey stabbed Dane about 32 times.
Despite his grievous wounds, Dane shoved Corey backward, jumped through a second story window and clambered 12 feet down to the ground. While the young men were fighting, Elaine escaped to a neighbor and called 911.
“He’s a hero,” Dane’s father, Luke Bancroft, told The Post. “He saved his mom.”
Kyle, 15, woke up when he heard Dane calling Jovanni’s name. He did not witness the attack or see Corey after the murder. Kyle and Corey had been best friends for nine years, since they met in elementary school, according to The Post.
When police arrived on the scene Corey had barricaded himself in a room but authorities were able to take him into custody a short time later. Jovanni was pronounced dead at the scene.
Jovanni was a seventh grader at Watson P. Duncan Middle School. He played soccer in a youth league and aspired to be a marine biologist. He has an 8-year-old sister, Isabella. His step-dad, Oliver Abreu, a construction worker, “loved him as his own son.”
Chillingly, he told police he read the Quran that night “to give him courage to carry out his intentions.”
Kyle told police that Corey went off his antidepressant medication a week before the attack. Palm Beach Gardens Police Interim Chief Clint Shannon told reporters Corey had previously been investigated for “violent tendencies” by the Jupiter Police and the FBI.
He first drew attention in middle school, when he made anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual statements and admitted to holding beliefs similar to the KKK.
Police told the FBI they received information that Corey “has violent tendencies,” “has spoken about…places to bomb,” and “is a white supremacist,” according to The Clarion Project (CP).
“In October 2016, Johnson was investigated by a European counter-intelligence agency in connection to threats made to a high school in England. Johnson was thought to have made violent threats on Instagram which resulted in over 100 people being evacuated from the school,” according to CP.
Authorities monitored Johnson both online and offline. They interviewed his parents, who said their son was fascinated with dictators such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-un.
He also began to read the Quran.
“Police and the FBI held a meeting in January 2017 to discuss Johnson. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said they received information that Johnson admired Islamic State and reached out to ISIS online to join the organization. A detective conducted a mental health assessment and found Johnson sympathized with terrorist groups.”
From March 2017, the FBI began monitoring Johnson’s internet activity, noting he had a swastika as his Facebook profile picture. They also spoke to the teen and warned him “to cease all social media activities related to ISIS and any other terrorist organization,” as well as stay away from the school he allegedly threatened, according to CP.
On March 5, a week before the murder took place, Jupiter police discussed Johnson with the FBI. The FBI said they had enough evidence to charge him, and affidavits would be “coming in the next several weeks.”
Tragically, even though police were tracking him carefully and following the threat closely, he acted out in a manner that would be difficult for anyone to prevent. He also used a knife, so any attempt to keep him away from guns would not have made a difference in this heartbreaking incident.