News & Politics

Florida Teen Who Tried to Join ISIS Slit Friend's Throat after Muslim Taunts

A Florida teenager confessed to police that he slit the throat of one boy and stabbed another boy and his mother, after one of the victims “made fun” of his Muslim faith. The same teen was investigated by authorities for reportedly attempting to join the Islamic State (ISIS).

Police arrested 17-year-old Corey Johnson on Monday. He faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder for a stabbing spree in Palm Beach Gardens Monday morning. The suspect confessed to the crimes, saying he carried them out due to his Muslim faith.

Johnson was sleeping over at the home of his 15-year-old friend Kyle Bancroft. In the wee hours of the morning, he stabbed 13-year-old Jovanni Sierra and slit the boy’s throat. He then attempted to kill Brancroft’s mother, 43-year-old Elaine Simon and her son, 13-year-old Dane Bancroft.

Police reported that Johnson stabbed Simon 12 times and stabbed her son Dane 32 times. Dane Bancroft attempted to save his mother’s life, blocking Johnson from her body, The New York Daily News reported. Sierra died at the scene, but Simon and Bancroft survived.

In January 2017, local law-enforement agencies and the FBI came together with staff at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, where Johnson was a student at the time. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had received information that Johnson supported the Islamic State (ISIS) and had reached out to the group online, saying he would like to join them, the Palm Beach Post‘s Hannah Winston reported.

A sheriff’s detective interviewed Johnson and said the teen sympathized with terror organizations.

During middle school, Johnson reportedly made anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual statements, a police report stated. The student identified his beliefs as similar to the Ku Klux Klan, and school police said they received information he “has violent tendencies” and “is a White Supremacist.”

Investigators found several guns in his residence, but his mother had locked them in a safe. Johnson’s mother and grandparents told police the boy was fascinated with dictators like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Kim Jong-un. They further testified that he had “recently began discovering religion,” and had been studying the Quran.

After connecting the teen to violent threats against a Catholic school in England, law enforcement monitored his movements and his social media accounts, discovering the image of a swastika as his Facebook profile picture. The FBI did not want to charge Johnson because he was a juvenile, so the agency “believed a redirection approach would be the most beneficial regarding his conduct.” The agency got consent to “mirror” his computer activity in March 2017.

The FBI spoke with Johnson, who denied any affiliation with ISIS and told him “to cease all social media activities related to ISIS and any other terrorist organization.” By last summer, however, Johnson had returned to online terror posts and engagements with ISIS, police reported.

Last month, the FBI said it had all the evidence it needed and that an assistant U.S. attorney had probable cause to charge Johnson. On March 5, Jupiter police checked in with the FBI to see where they were with federal charges, which the agency promised would be “coming in the next several weeks.”