Lady Lake, FL - Two male teenagers were arrested Thursday for planning a school shooting at their middle school.
According to Fox News, the two suspects, ages 13, and 14, had detailed plans for the school shooting at The Villages Charter Middle School. The shooting was planned for Friday, January 27, 2017. One suspect planned to drop a pencil in gym class as a signal for the second suspect to start shooting. Some students were forewarned about the plot and were told to wear white clothing and shout "Eugene" to avoid being a target. Other students were told not to go to school on that day.
School officials and the School Resource Officer became aware of the plot on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, when they overheard students talking about it at the end of the school day, according to ABC News. Those students were interviewed and cooperated fully. Lake County Sheriff's Deputies then interviewed the 13-year-old suspect, and the suspect admitted to the plot.
The 13-year-old suspect also referenced the Columbine shooting. Twelve students and one teacher were killed in that shooting, and 21 others were injured. He also told Deputies that when he had discussed the plot with the 14-year-old, and mentioned Columbine, that he said "Imagine if that was me shooting," according to The Daily Commercial.
When Lake County Deputies interviewed the 13-year-old suspect, they learned of the second suspect. That suspect was also interviewed, admitted to the plot, and also referenced the Columbine incident. Both students started crying during their interviews. The 13-year-old suspect said that he had been depressed, and that he "just wanted to die."
The Lake County Sheriff's Office executed search warrants at both suspects' homes on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. Weapons were found at both suspects' homes. No weapons were found at the school.
The 13-year-old suspect was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff's Office at his home in Fruitland Park, and the 14-year-old suspect was arrested by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office at his home in Wildwood. Both suspects have been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder. They are in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. No additional arrests are expected.
The Sumter County Sheriff's Office expressed its gratitude to students who were "brave enough" to come forward. A parent of two students at the middle school said “I praise not only the students that reported it, but the parents that taught them to be aware of their surroundings and be aware of any dangers or unusual activity in the school.”
Police presence was increased and noticeably visible at the school on Friday.. The suspects' names were not released because they are juveniles.
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