A pair of Florida teens plotting to carry out a Columbine style mass shooting at Village Charter Middle School were thwarted after a school resource officer was alerted to the plan by other students.
The boys, 13 and 14-years-old, were arrested Thursday after a school resource officer was alerted to rumors circulating among students about an impending school shooting scheduled for Jan. 27.
According to a statement released by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, certain students were made aware of the plot and warned to stay home on Friday. The resource officer, upon hearing the claims, notified police who intercepted the 13-year-old male student on his way to school on Wednesday.
After being questioned by police, the teen admitted to planning a mass shooting similar to the one carried out at Columbine High School in 1999. The student also notified police of a second teen involved in the plot.
Authorities immediately tracked the other student down on campus and questioned him about his involvement in the scheme. He acknowledged the plot and detailed the plan, down to what signal the pair would use to start shooting.
Neither students had weapons in their backpacks or lockers, but a search of their homes on Thursday uncovered firearms. The teens were taken into custody and are charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities did not release their names.
Randy McDaniel, Director of Education at Villages Charter School, issued a letter to parents after the teens’ arrest thanking students for notifying the resource officer.
“First, let me say how proud I am of our students, parents and administration during this process,” the note said. “Our students and parents provided important information allowing our administration and school resource officers to quickly, but thoroughly investigate the situation and determine if there was any immediate danger on campus.”
The letter also indicated an increase in deputy presence Friday for students’ protection.
Robin Carr, a parent, told local ABC affiliate WFTV that while safety is a concern she trusts the school to take care of her children.
“Of course we’re concerned and we have been in contact with teachers and administration that we know personally last night and this morning. We have confidence in our school, and if there sending their kids, then we feel safe to send ours,” Carr said.