Teen behind 2008 Columbine-style plot at Penn HS apologizes

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:33 PM EDT
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Intriguing expressionist-style art adorns the walls of Russell Frantom's studio at his Mishawaka apartment. The pictures invoke a range of emotions, from whimsy to melancholy.

"I feel life from doing art," remarked Frantom. "It sort of became a larger deal after all the bad stuff."

In April 2008, police arrested the 16-year-old Frantom, who was then charged with conspiracy to commit murder for planning a Columbine-style mass attack at Penn High School.

Just like when WNDU reporter Tricia Harte interviewed Frantom

, he still maintains he doesn't believe he would have carried out the attack.

"Ultimately, there are no excuses for the way I acted during that time," Frantom said Tuesday.

During that time, in 2008, the high school freshman had lost a loved one and also had tense family relationships. Frantom had a tough time at school, too.

"I was feeding into negatives when really what I needed was a positive ear to listen to me," he said. "Yeah, I definitely needed therapy."

On Tuesday, he wants to publicly apologize to the community, especially the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, for his behavior and the fear he caused in April 2008.

"From the bottom of my heart, I am absolutely sorry," apologized Frantom. "I have been so sorry for over 10 years now about that entire situation. It's hard to really know what to say, but of course, I am extremely sorry. Of course, I regret everything."

These days, Frantom is an accomplished artist, whose work has been displayed in Chicago and New York. He's also sold to former South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

"I want to prove to people that art can change lives, that there's no point where you're finished, like there's no point in giving up that way because there are a lot of different things you can do if you believe in yourself."

He continued: “I don’t want to live the rest of my life with that kind of darkness. I want to help other people move past it."

If there's hope for him, he believes there is hope for other troubled teens.

"There are always outlets. If it's not art, there's something. Just follow your dreams. There's nothing that's ultimately ever in your way of pursuing those things," Frantom explained.

At this time, P-H-M officials say they aren't interested in making a comment regarding Frantom's apology. Frantom said he hopes to sit down with the district someday to apologize face-to-face.

To learn more about Frantom's art,



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