2 Florida teens arrested, accused of plotting Columbine-like school shooting – National
Two Florida teens were arrested after local authorities claimed the pair were plotting a Columbine-style school shooting.
Two boys, aged 13 and 14, were charged on Thursday with plotting to commit a mass shooting after another student told a teacher that one of the boys had a gun in his backpack.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno revealed details of the arrest during a news conference, saying the incident took place at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, just east of Fort Myers.
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“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we prevented them in the planning phase,” said Marceno, referring to the 2018 shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory High School. Stoneman Douglas in Florida. “We are only a second away from a Columbine here. I am certain that my dedicated team of deputies and detectives acted promptly, thoroughly investigated and prevented a very violent and dangerous act from being carried out.”
Lee County deputies searched the alleged student’s backpack and did not find a gun, but instead found a map of the school with a circled security camera. Police also searched the boys’ home and found several knives and a gun. They are also said to be working on how to buy guns on the black market and make homemade pipe bombs.
“Detectives learned that students were interested in the Columbine High School shooting. They did extensive research to learn more about the incident and the shooters,” said Marcelo.
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The infamous Columbine School shooting occurred on April 20, 1999, when two students killed 13 people before turning the gun on themselves.
In the video shown during the press conference (top), one of the boys’ rooms is filled with gun paraphernalia, including dozens of bullets, a poster of different ammunition, several knives and a large Confederate flag that reads “The Will of the South Rises Again.”
“They planned this; they could have been planning all this summer just waiting for school to start. My child could be an injured child or any child,” one resident told the local CBS affiliate KMOV4.
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According to KMOV4, police said they responded to both teenagers’ homes nearly 80 times between the two of them over the years.
The boys were taken for a mental health assessment. The results of those tests are not known at this time.
The principal of the junior high school, Alex Dworzanski, praised the students for coming forward and for being able to prevent the tragedy.
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