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Soldier suspected of bomb plot once on classmate's 'hit list' in high school

Jarrett Smith during an August 2011 interview in WPDE's studio. (WPDE archives)
Jarrett Smith during an August 2011 interview in WPDE's studio. (WPDE archives)
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A soldier suspected of planning to bomb multiple high-profile targets around the United States was once on the "hit list" of a teenager who tried to blow up his high school.

Federal authorities charged Jarrett William Smith, 24, with sharing bomb-making instructions online. Officials said he also discussed the possible bombing of a media organization and killing left-leaning activists.

Smith was a private first class infantry soldier from Conway, South Carolina, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was arrested on Saturday.

RELATED: Army soldier from Conway arrested in bomb making plot

A criminal complaint alleges that Smith discussed his plan to kill far-left-leaning "Antifa" activists and described how to build a bomb that could be triggered by calling a cellphone. It says he posted on Facebook that he was interested in traveling to Ukraine to fight with a paramilitary group.

Court papers say Smith also suggested targeting a major news network with a car bomb. CNN later reported that their Atlanta headquarters was Smith's intended target.

In an interview before his arrest, Smith told investigators he knew how to make improvised explosives devices and that he routinely provided instruction on building them. He stated he did this to cause "chaos."

Nine years ago, however, Smith was on the other end of a bomb plot.

In September 2010, 14-year-old Christian Helms brought a gun and other weapons to Socastee High School, firing a shot at the school resource officer as the officer tried to wrestle his gun away.

Helms was also discovered to have brought pipe bombs to school, and had a list of 13 students who were his intended targets.

Jarrett Smith was one of them.

In August of 2011, Smith and his father did an interview with ABC 15 about the shooting and his potential killer.

"I think it's ridiculous that he would get such a little amount of time for such a big thing," Smith said after Helms was sentenced to six years in prison. "I pretty much don't know anything about him and here he is trying to take me out."

During his interview, the rising sophomore spoke about being bullied frequently for a cleft lip. At the time, his inclusion on Helms' hit list was considered a surprise, as Helms was believed to be targeting the school's popular students after being bullied himself.

Back then, Smith told our reporter he was included simply because Helms didn't like him.

RELATED: Student on hit list: Helms' sentence "ridiculous"

An Horry County School District spokeswoman confirmed that Smith transferred to Carolina Forest High School for the remainder of his high school career and graduated in 2014. She said Smith was the only person of his name in that graduating class.

A woman whose daughter went to high school with Smith told ABC 15 that she remembered a scar on his upper lip around the time he graduated and that he had joined the military.

Smith's neighbors remembered the teenager was frequently picked on even after transferring to CFHS.

When ABC 15 pulled up to Smith's parents' house Monday afternoon, a sign supporting the Army could be seen in the front yard. The elder Smith removed the sign after arriving home from work and declined to speak to reporters gathered outside.

In the 2011 interview, both father and son said they were afraid of Helms and wondered what he would be like following his release from prison.

"I expect him to come out more brutal, more vicious, and more violent than he went in," Jarrett said.

His father had promised they'd protect themselves with "everything we have at our disposal."

Following Smith's arrest last Saturday, neighbors said they were "shocked" about the allegations against Jarrett and worried about his parents.

"I'm sure they're hurt. I'm sure they're a little embarrassed," one woman said.

If convicted of the charge Smith could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

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ABC 15 Investigates has reached out to Smith's attorney and the Department of Defense for additional records and comment. The Horry County School District is expected to release Smith's graduation photo at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

RELATED: Parents say bullying pushed Christian Helms to the edge

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