Is Writing About a School Shooting a Crime?

Police in Winchester, Ky., say Winston Poole would have been the nation's next school shooter, had they not intervened.

"All the bells and whistles went off on this case," said Steven Caudill, a detective with the Winchester Police Department. "Our No. 1 goal is crime prevention and law enforcement, not just here in our community. But the nation as a whole. All the warning signs were here in our community. We saw it. We acted on it."

Poole, 18, has been charged with terroristic threatening for allegedly trying to recruit fellow students he called "soldiers" to participate in a school shooting (search). His grandmother turned him in after finding his journal.

"He was talking about taking over the high school and when it was all done, that everybody would be laying" on the ground, said Poole's grandmother, Joyce Craft. "You have to stop and think that these things can happen. If somebody sees it coming, or has some suspicions, then they need to report it. I could not let this go by."

Police said Poole is a legitimate threat and they read excerpts from his journal to show just that at his preliminary court hearing.

"They yelled, 'kill them.' All the soldiers of Zone 2 started shooting. They are dropping all of them. Then after five minutes, all the people are laying on the ground, dead," Poole wrote in his journal.

Poole's lawyer said the journal was a school assignment, that Poole is passionate about horror films and that he was writing about zombies. But police said Poole didn't have a writing assignment for English class.

"The evidence has already shown publicly that this was far from any story," Caudill said. "All the evidence we seized in this case never indicated anything to indicate this was a story about zombies."

Supporters said it's not a crime to write about violence, as long as you don't act on it. A group of California First Amendment (search) supporters — unwilling to be identified — freed Poole temporarily by paying his bond.

"It was just a fiction story and everybody is just blowing it out of proportion," said Poole's friend, Anthony Rudolph.

Poole's plight has become a cause celebre on the Internet for the First Amendment movement. A Google Web search for "William Poole Winchester" nets more than 160,000 results, including a "Free William Poole" petition that says famous authors would be locked away if writing about terrorism (search) was a crime.

Poole has landed back in jail, where he's awaiting trial for showing up at an elementary school in violation of a school order. Police say the community is safer with Poole locked up. But the teen's supporters say it's dangerous to muzzle speech, regardless whether it's fact or fiction.

Click in the video box above for a complete report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.