Teen accused of planning mass murder at Okeechobee High School and Miami Church

Posted 10/7/23

An Okeechobee man is being held in the main Palm Beach County Jail on a $1 million bond, facing charges of written threats to do harm.

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Teen accused of planning mass murder at Okeechobee High School and Miami Church

Henry Joseph Horton IV
Henry Joseph Horton IV

WEST PALM BEACH – An Okeechobee man is being held in the main Palm Beach County Jail on a $1 million bond, facing charges of written threats to do harm.

Henry Horton IV, 19,  is accused of planning mass murders at Okeechobee High School and at a Miami Church. He is also accused of threatening to kill his stepmother and his father.

Written plans for the attack were discovered after his vehicle was searched during a Sept. 18 traffic stop. A Jupiter police officer stopped the white pickup truck because a headlight was out. The plans indicated Horton was planning the attack for his 22nd birthday on Jan. 2, 2026.

Horton was taken to JFK North Hospital under the Florida Baker Act for a mental health evaluation before his arrest.

The First Appearance Hearing in the case was at 10 a.m. on Oct. 6. His next court date is Nov. 6.

On Oct. 6, WPTV Channel 5 reporter Joel Lopez spoke to Horton's mother and father about the accusations against their son. According to that report, both claimed that their son is not dangerous and that he struggles with his mental health.

In the arrest report Palm Beach County Detective E. Miranda wrote:

“On Sept. 27, I was tasked with assisting Jupiter Police Department with a threat investigation. I met with Jupiter Police Department Sgt at JFK North Hospital located at 2201 45th St, West Palm Beach FL 33407.

“Upon arrival, I was briefed on an incident that took place on Sept. 18, at approximately 2127 hours, Officer Sales-Lopez was on routine patrol in the area of W. Indiantown Road and Cortana Boulevard in his marked patrol vehicle, wearing his agency issued uniform that identifies him as a police officer for the Town of Jupiter. While on patrol, he observed a white pickup truck with its passenger headlight out.

“Officer Sales-Lopez immediately got behind the vehicle, activating his interior red and blue lights and sirens, conducting a traffic stop. The vehicle came to a complete stop just east of the above location.  As Officer Sales-Lopez approached the vehicle, he made contact with the driver, who was later identified by their Florida Driver’s License as Henry J. Horton IV. Officer Sales-Lopez explained the reason for my traffic stop and asked for his driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Once Horton retrieved those items, Officer Sales-Lopez had his dispatch do a records check to which it came back valid and clear.

“Officer Sales-Lopez advised Horton that he would be receiving a written warning for the headlight being out and to immediately fix it. Officer Sales-Lopez then asked Horton if he would consent to a search, to which he consented. As Officer Sales-Lopez conducted a vehicle search, Horton advised Officer Sales-Lopez that he would find a water glass pipe, commonly known as a 'bong' in the center console of the vehicle.

“As Officer Sales-Lopez conducted a vehicle search, he located the glass water pipe along with multiple, handwritten pages stating a plan to purchase firearms, and ‘kill everyone at OHS with my guns,’ which was later discovered to stand for ‘Okeechobee High School.’ Officer Sales-Lopez immediately read Horton his Miranda Warnings off his agency-issued card, and he agreed to speak to him without the representation of a lawyer.

“As Officer Sales-Lopez completed the vehicle search, Horton spoke with Officer Wyatt  and stated the following: Horton was planning on killing (an administrator) at Okeechobee High School, which he graduated from in May, 2022. Horton was planning on executing the plan on his 22nd birthday Jan. 2, 2026 at approximately 1130 hours.

“Once he had killed (an administrator), Horton wished to murder another 14 people, accounting to a total of 15 victims. After this plan was executed, he wanted to drive down to Miami, to a church named ‘El Rey Jesus’ and go on a ‘stabbing spree’ and murder another 10 subjects. Horton ultimately wanted to be killed by police or he would starve himself to death. Horton advised he wanted to complete these goals by purchasing a M1911 handgun and an AK-47.

“Once completing the vehicle search, a glass water pipe with burnt residue was located along with three filet style knives. Officer Sales-Lopez then spoke with Horton who then repeated the exact plan he had mentioned earlier to Officer Wyatt, Horton advised he has been having multiple thoughts about mass homicide and wanted to execute them once he turned 22 years old. Horton also stated he has had mental health issues in the past. Horton said when he lived in Virginia, he voluntarily admitted himself into a medical facility for a mental health evaluation due to having similar thoughts.

“I asked Horton where he was heading prior to being stopped by the police to which he stated he was heading to Miami to ‘recon’ a church (El Rey Jesus). When asked about his ultimate plans at the church were, Horton advised he wanted to go on a ‘stabbing spree’ and murder approximately 10 subjects after he completed his attack at Okeechobee High School. Once his attack was complete, Horton said he would eventually want to be killed by police or starve himself to death.

“Due to the statements made to officers and handwritten pieces of paper, Horton was placed into custody for a Law Enforcement Baker Act. Without immediate interdiction, Horton would cause serious bodily harm to himself and others.

“Horton was also advised he would be placed under arrest for possession of the glass water pipe with burnt residue, also known as paraphernalia, contrary to FSS 893.147(1). Horton was transported to JFK North to receive a mental health evaluation.

“I was then requested to attempt to speak with Horton, reference the serious threats made. I met with the medical staff at JFK North Hospital and asked if Horton was stable which they stated that he was ready to be discharged. I then met with Horton inside the conference room and introduced myself as a Detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff Office and explained to him that speaking with me was voluntary and that he was not under arrest.

“Horton stated that he would speak with me and sat down across from me and had full access to the door to exit the conference room. I spoke with Horton who questioned about the paraphernalia charge that he heard he had. I explained to him that Jupiter Police Department filed that case and he was not going to be transported to the jail.

“I asked Horton to tell me about himself. Horton stated that works at Domino’s in Okeechobee County although he lives in Glades County. I questioned why Horton was in Palm Beach County when he was stopped, and he stated that he was going to El Rey Jesus church in Miami. Horton stated that he was going to the church to do a recon mission for an attack he was planning. I asked what the plan was and Horton stated it was a stabbing spree. When asked why he stated, ‘I guess I just don’t like religion.'

“Horton stated that he was planning on executing his plan on his 22nd birthday but was just doing recon and planning for now. I asked if he still wanted the attack to happen, and at first, he stated he didn’t have the plan anymore but hesitated. I explained to Horton that I was just there to get to know him, and he stated he actually does. I asked why he wants the plan to still happen, and he stated, ‘I guess I just want to attack a bunch of random people.' Horton stated that he wanted to do something violent due to his stepmother kicking him out of the house a few years ago and he wants revenge.

“I asked where she was located, and he stated that she was in Virginia. When asked how a stabbing spree would get back at his stepmother he stated, 'to prove that he lost his mind or something.' Horton stated he has felt this way since May of 2023 even though his stepmother kicked him out in April of 2023.

“Horton stated he prefers to live in Virginia over Florida because marijuana is legal in Virginia. Horton was asked if marijuana became legal in Florida would that change his mind on the attack, and he stated he would still want to kill people. I asked Horton what his end game was because he would end up in jail if he did the attack and he stated that he planned for someone to kill him while he was attacking people.

“Horton admitted to writing a manifesto and had it inside his vehicle when he was stopped. When asked if he has done any other recon anywhere else and he stated that he has gone to costal church in Parkland Florida near Marjory Stoneman Douglas (school). When asked why he chose that church he stated, ‘I looked up big church in Parkland and that was the first church that pulled up on Safari.’

“When questioned when Horton went down to Parkland, Florida he stated that he went there approximately 2-3 weeks prior. It should be noted that Horton’s vehicle was spotted in the area of Parkland Florida on Sept. 11, 2023.

“ I asked Horton if there was any other targets he was looking at and he stated that he was going to do it at Okeechobee High School and do an attack there. 1 asked if it was also going to be a stabbing attack and he stated ‘no, a shooting.’ I asked if Horton had any firearms and he stated no but he did hold a 9mm handgun before that belongs to his mother but stated that she doesn’t know where the gun currently is. Horton stated that he did recently order a BB gun from Amazon which just arrived at his residence. When questioned where he would get a gun from, he stated that he would go somewhere where people don’t know him and buy a gun and bring it back home to do the attack.

“Horton then stated that he has also done recon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well. When questioned what has he done for recon, he stated that he went there on a school day and watched a bunch of people outside and thought ‘hmm…  interesting.’ Then went over to the Dollar Tree near the school. Horton stated that this was done approximately a month ago. When asked why he would attack the school he stated, ‘for attention or fame.’

“I asked Horton where he does his research on all the locations how was he doing it and he stated he does it on his cell phone. I asked Horton if he would consent to look at his phone and at first stated he didn’t want to because he has porn in his phone. I explained to him that everyone looks at porn at some point and I didn’t care about the porn. Horton then stated that I could take his phone and look at it.

“Horton provided me with the access code to his Apple iPhone. Horton then left to go back to his room to be ready for discharge and I met with the staff to let them know about the homicidal statements he made. I then asked the staff for Horton’s cell phone and they confirmed with Horton that it was ok to give me the phone and he told them it was OK.

“I then looked through the cell phone and noticed in the Notes section of his phone, daily notes on what Horton does day to day. I also noticed several notes that had plans for 1/2/2026 which is Horton’s 22nd birthday. One of the notes stated ‘So, I want to set | things straight. I want to mass murder 50 people in a single event. I feel like I can’t be fired. Which if it’s related to my autism then, yes, I can’t be fired for that cause that is discrimination. But back on topic, I will buy some pistols and assault rifles and then formulate the rest of it by then. I’ll have pictures from Apple Maps of the locations that I will be at. The pictures will be put  on display below the note. First, I’ll start at my local Walmart. Second I will drive to OHS and do that there. And then drive up Interstate 95 (I-95) North and drive to Charlotte, North Carolina and shoot up a church there. Then drive Eastlawn Drive and kill my father and stepmother. Those two will suffer. Then drive to the United Nations Building in New York.’

“Below that was screen shots of Apple maps with the address and location of Walmart, Okeechobee High School, Elevation Church, his father’s address and the United Nations. Another note I noticed was titled ‘operation MM.’ In this note it started with a map from Miami, Florida to New York with four stops between. Under the map stated ‘Gather like 112 other people that are as fanatical as me. Then show them a map of every state in the southern United States. And then assign every group of seven to a specific state. I want it set up to where every southern state has 5-7 mass murders at the same time and on the same day. There are 16 states. So 16 x 7 equals 112. So there would be 112 massacres. And I want at least 10 people died in each. So 1,120 people would die if this whole plan came to fruition.’

“Another note from Sept. 16, 2023 titled ‘I’ stated: ‘I want to kill other people. I want some of my family dead. I want my father to die. I want my stepmom to die as well. I’m not fine. I will perhaps never be fine again. I’ll probably be like this for the rest of my life. I don’t care. Just like I don’t care about dying before 23.

“There were other notes that made mention of making a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Also notes on ingredients on how to make a bomb and where to buy the supplies to make them. In Horton’s search history, I noticed he searched how much is an AK47.

“I then looked at Horton’s Discord application. I noticed on May 1, 2023 there was a message between Horton (username PotatoKing) and someone named Bendy. Horton stated to Bendy ‘I want my stepmom dead. Every day, I want her more and more dead. Every time I think about her, I feel more and more powerless.’ Bendy asked ‘why do you want her dead?' Horton replied, ‘She kicked me out for telling her my honest thoughts. Now I suffer in Florida in the middle of nowhere.’ A Tik Tok video was sent which showed someone stabbing a cell phone with a knife repeatedly. Horton then stated, ‘how I would stab her.’

“Based on the facts above that Horton made the statement how he would stab his stepmother and the fact that he has several notes and plans that include killing his stepmother, I find probable cause to charge Horton with Violation of FSS 836.10 (2)(A). Written threats to kill or do harm,” the detective’s statement concluded.

Okeechobee, school shooting, Miami, church shooting, Horton