Teenage boys’ ‘plot to carry out school shooting’ foiled by teaching staff
Two teenage boys’ who plotted to carry out a school shooting has been foiled by their teachers.
The teenagers identified as Phillip Byrd, 14, and Connor Pruett, 13, planned to carry out the shooting that would mirror the 1999 Columbine massacre at the Harns Marsh Middle School near Fort Myers in Florida.
Their plan was busted afterstudents told a teacher that one of their classmates had a gun in their bag. Administration staff were alerted, and while the gun was not found after a search was conducted, a map showing marks where security cameras were placed was found.
Lee County Police were then alerted and detectives discovered that Bryd and Pruett had been thoroughly studying the Columbine shooting, attempting to learn how to build a pipe bomb and researching how to buy guns on the black market. Police also searched their homes and found ammunition, guns, and several knives.
Byrd’s mother Carrie Tuller broke down in tears as she defended her son when he appeared in court on Sunday September 12. She said:
“He’s just a little boy. He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.”
On Sunday morning, Philip Byrd and Connor Pruitt had their first court appearance. They were sentenced to 21 days in juvenile detention without speaking to the school or one another.
The sentencing came after they underwent a mental health evaluation before being taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.
They were also ordered not to have no contact with school staff or students, and are required to stay off school grounds. Their next appearance in court is on September 27.
In a news conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said:
“Detectives learned the students took an interest in the Columbine High School shooting.
“They were extensively studying to learn more about the incident and the shooters.
“Detectives also learned the students were attempting to learn how to construct pipe bombs and how to purchase firearms on the black market.
“I’m certain that my team of dedicated deputies and detectives acted promptly, investigated thoroughly and prevented a very violent and dangerous act from being carried out.
“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages.”
Marceno added that the teenagers were “well known” to police as officers had responded to calls to their homes nearly 80 times in total.”