Friday, May 16, 1986, found the Cokeville, Wyoming law enforcement officers all out of town. It wasn’t normal for every officer to be out of town, but Cokeville was a small town of just 535 people, and normally a quiet place, where nothing ever happened. It was a peaceful place where everyone knew each other. It was a great place to raise a family. Everyone went to church together, worked together, and played together…on a normal day, but this day was not going to be a normal day. This was a miraculous day.
That day, around 1:00pm, David Young, a disgruntled and mentally unstable former Cokeville marshal; his wife, Doris; and his youngest daughter, Princess, known as Penny; entered the town’s only elementary school with an arsenal of weapons and a gasoline bomb in a grocery cart. David Young had initially planned to involve longtime friends Gerald Deppe and Doyle Mendenhall. They had invested money with him in a get-rich-quick scheme that he had called “The Biggie.” This, however, was too much for the men, who eventually refused to participate in the event. Both men were handcuffed in a van outside the school.
No one saw this coming. Why would they? Nothing like that had ever happened in Cokeville before. There was still an air of innocence in the town…until that day. The trio entered the school, and Doug Young began threatening the people. It was at this point that Penny also refused to participate and after her dad said she was “no daughter of his” she left to tell the police. Unfortunately, other than the office personnel at the police station, there was no one who could really help, but help was on the way, nevertheless.
As the events unfolded, the Youngs took the school hostage. They had a bomb, and it was leaking gas. The children were getting sick, and teachers felt led to open the windows. Children later said that they saw people dressed in white told them to go near the windows. One teacher felt led to make a box with tape on the floor so that the bomber was in there by himself. No one was allowed in but Doug, the bomber and his wife, Doris. When the bomber went to the restroom, he put the string that would set off the bomb on his wife’s wrist. She forgot not to move her arm up, and she accidently set off the bomb. She was killed. A bomb expert who examined the bomb said that there had been gunpowder under the bomb, and had it not become wet with gasoline, it would have been as if the air was on fire. He also said that several of the wires were cut, and there was no explanation as to how that had happened, but it meant that the bomb didn’t have its full force. The students said they saw beings of light all around the bomb when it went off. Doug came out of the restroom and saw that he had failed. He went back in and fatally shot himself, after shooting one teacher in the back, somehow missing his spine by about an inch. Other than that teacher, no one was injured. The bomb did go off, but most of its power was miraculously thwarted. Afterwards, everyone who was there, told the same stories of people dressed in white, and beings of light. No one wavered about what they saw. No one changed their minds. You can believe what you want, but as for me…I believe God sent His angels and gave them charge over the teachers and children at Cokeville Elementary School that day. And the angels bore them up and kept them safe. Glory be to God!!