***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
BLOG POST #185: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific crime involving a middle school student who planned to kill people.
Leading up the school shooting, the 13-year-old student had searched the internet using the terms Columbine, Sandy Hook, school shooting memes, what was the largest mass shooting in America, and he also searched for a blueprint of his middle school. The school had approx., 1,300 6th-8th grade students.
The day before the shooting, the teen made a short video showing two handguns, one with a silencer attached. He said in the video he planned to take other people’s lives and then his.
Also the day before the shooting, he texted some friends and told them not to go to school the next day.
His mother testified it was a typical morning the day of the shooting. Her son got ready for school and told her about an upcoming band concert. What she didn’t know was that he’d packed two weapons and plenty of ammunition in his backpack.
Upon his arrival at school, the seventh-grade boy stashed the backpack in his locker.
There was a quiz given in his second-period science class. He finished early and asked to be excused. He retrieved his backpack from the locker and went to the bathroom to prepare the weapons.
He returned to his science class, knocked and then opened the door gun drawn. Several shots were fired before the quick thinking—and brave—science teacher grabbed a basketball and threw it at the student using a “double-pump” technique.
Double-pump: A basketball technique where the shooter fakes a shot by pumping the ball quickly two times before shooting.
A fellow teacher summoned the school resource officer, someone called 911, and the school went into lock-down.
Seeing the ball had knocked the gun out of the student’s hand; the teacher charged the boy and took him down with a bear-hug. He held him tightly until an officer took him into custody.
A female student and the teacher had both been shot several times requiring surgeries. Both victims survived. Seven shell casings were found.
You hear about these shootings around the country,” the mayor said at a news conference. “You just never think it could happen in your town.”
The case remained in juvenile court, and the shooter agreed to a juvenile court version of a guilty plea.
In court, his mother testified they were responsible gun owners. However, when the home was searched, the locked gun safe—in the basement—had the keys in the lock.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, in your past, your upbringing, would make anyone think you were capable of this offense,” the judge said.
The judge expressed his confusion from the 70+ letters of support for the boy and the boy’s actions as well as his insincere letter of apology.
The judge sentenced the boy to the Department of Corrections until he’s 18 and probation upon his release.
Schools need to be hyper-vigilant during the last few months of school. But what does that even mean? To use the words of the judge in the case referenced in this email—nothing, absolutely nothing, in the boy’s past, his upbringing, would make anyone think he was capable of this offense. Schools need parents help or shootings won’t stop. In my opinion, vigilance has to start at home.
- Keep guns locked and inaccessible at all times. It doesn’t matter if a parent thinks their child has been taught to use guns responsibly—lock up the firearms and hide the key.
- Monitor your child’s internet use—regardless of their protest.
- Monitor your child’s cell phone use—irrespective of their surly attitude.
Until it happens in your community, the possibility of a school shooting at your local school isn’t even a thought. It’s quite the conundrum, how to be hyper-vigilant for an event you don’t expect to occur.
Worth Mentioning: Six months later, the voters in this community approved a $50 million school referendum for the district with 10,000+ students, and 10 schools. An increase of .37 cents per $100 assessed value to their property tax. The district receives $6.25 million per year.
- $1.57 million: Hire a mental health coordinator, 10 social workers, two middle school deans, two elementary school counselors and software to start screening students.
- $1.75 million: To be spent on safety staff and equipment, including hiring a full-time district safety director, eight additional school resource officers, a technician to manage security footage, and installing video systems on buses.
- The remaining $2.93 million would be spent on salaries.
What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
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