KEY POINTS

  • Police found a gun and several knives in the students’ houses
  • Suspect tried to recruit others in virtual meetings, cafeteria and class
  • They extensively studied the 1999 Columbine School Massacre

Two male middle-schoolers, whose plan to carry out a school shootout in Florida last week was foiled by the police, allegedly tried to recruit other students to join their violent plot. 

On Sept. 10, two male students aged 13 and 14, who attended Harns Marsh Middle School in Lee County, Florida, were arrested after a teacher shared information with school officials alleging that one of the students was carrying a gun in his bookbag. An 8th grader was removed from the class and searched, but no guns were found until the police executed house search warrants later. However, they found a map, where locations of each interior school camera were marked, reported CNN. 

Detectives from the Youth Services Criminal Investigations division identified the two middle-schoolers as being involved in a school shootout plot. Upon further investigation, the detectives found that the two suspected juveniles had extensively studied the 1999 Columbine High school shooting.

 "Detectives also learned that students were attempting to learn how to construct pipe bombs and how to purchase firearms on the black market," said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, reported the outlet. 

Both the juveniles were charged with conspiracy to commit mass shooting and had to undergo a mental health assessment following their arrest. 

The two teens had earlier tried to recruit more students during classes, in the cafeteria and through Zoom virtual meetings, reported the Hill. Authorities questioned three students, who said the two teens talked about carrying a shootout for over a week

Both the suspect “each of the students and verbally asked them if they wanted to participate in the school shooting. All the students declined to take part." The two students also cited the 1999 Columbine massacre as their inspiration and said they planned to shoot themselves in the end after they shot their classmates. 

 Marceno said the authorities found several knives and a gun after a search warrant was executed at the students’ home. He called the evidence found "disturbing."

According to the other students, the two juveniles planned to target “bullies.”  They allegedly wanted to carry out the shooting in the school cafeteria after creating a diversion. 

The two juveniles were sent to the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Sunday after briefly appearing in front of a judge. They are not allowed to have any contact with the school or with each other. 

parkland shooting Two middle school students in Lee County, Florida, have been arrested for allegedly plotting a mass shooting. This image shows school guards paying respects at the memorial set up in front of the school in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 14, 2019. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images