Two Florida middle school students were arrested Thursday for allegedly plotting to carry at a Columbine-style mass shooting. Police said the Florida teens had the capacity to carry out the planned attack, but thankfully, deputies learned about the planned crime before it was too late.
Sumter County Sheriff’s Department officials learned about the alleged planned mass shooting at the Villages Charter Middle School from other students. They also learned the suspects, 13 and 14, had carefully plotted when the shooting would occur down to the last minute, according to an ABC News report. The school is located in Lady Lake, which is located an hour’s drive northwest of Orlando.
— Alex Villarreal (@AlexvWESH) January 27, 2017
Moreover, the alleged would-be shooters included a “safe word” for students to utter if they did not want to be shot during the carnage. The sheriff’s office released a statement to the press about the arrests and investigation, which began Tuesday when officials learned about the chatter circulating at Villages Charter Middle School.
“The rumors indicated that a student was planning a mass shooting on Friday, January 27th. Witnesses indicated that some students had been warned not to come to school on Friday.”
When police arrested the Florida teens for the planned Columbine-style attack, they did not find any weapons on their persons or on the school premises. Instead, they did find guns at their respective residences. Florida police and parents praised the courageous students for tipping them off about the shooting plot.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) January 27, 2017
Ignacio Liunoras, the parent of a Villages Charter Middle School student not involved in the deadly plot, spoke to local reporters about the incident.
“I praise not only the students that reported it but the parents that taught them, you know, to be aware of your surroundings, to be aware of any dangers, of any unusual activity in the school.”
When deputies spoke to one of the arrested Florida teens, he downplayed the planned mass shooting, saying it was a “dumb mistake” and was “all a joke,” according to a Fox News anchor during a live broadcast. The other arrested teen said he was depressed and “wanted to die,” according to the police’s statement.
“The 13-year-old student alleged to be planning the attack was intercepted by authorities as he attempted to arrive for school. At that time, he acknowledged conversations involving the plot and referenced the mass shooting at Columbine High School.”
“The 14-year-old student acknowledged his involvement in conversations with the 13-year-old student again referencing the Columbine shooting. The student informed officials that the two students had planned an attack which included what they would use as a signal to open fire.”
The alleged planned mass shooting at the Florida school brought back an eerie reminder of the fatal shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado nearly two decades ago.
— LifeStyle on RTÉ (@LifeStyleRTE) September 8, 2016
According to the History website, on April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold, 17, and Erick Harris, 18, entered the school facility and opened fire. When the gunfire ended, 13 people were dead, and nearly two dozen others were injured. Police say both shooters committed suicide before police could make arrests. Reportedly, both suspects were obsessed with the Goth culture, were considered “outcasts,” and were bullied.
Both Florida teens were arrested without incident at their homes. Sources learned that both teens arrested in the Sumter County mass-shooting plot are being held at a juvenile detention center on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
It’s unclear if more charges are pending or if they will be charged as adults. Police have beefed up its security at the Villages Charter Middle School following the arrests in the alleged planned Florida school mass shooting.
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