A Washington state mother reported her 17-year-old son to police after discovering a plot to attack his school on the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, authorities said.
The teenager was taken into custody on Tuesday after his mother said she discovered his plans to attack College Place High School, outside Walla Walla, on April 20, 2020, according to College Place police.
That date is the 21st anniversary of the school massacre in Littleton, Colorado, that left 13 people dead.
Police said they found additional writings in the teen’s bedroom that supported this alleged plot.
“We did not locate any firearms or explosives in the teen’s possession. However, we did locate literature on how to develop explosives and other weapons,” College Place Officer Dylan Schmick told HuffPost.
The teen was arrested on charges of felony harassment and threats to bomb or injure property and was booked into the Walla Walla Juvenile Justice Center.
The city’s police chief commended the boy’s mother for her courage.
“The mother was very emotional and loves her son. This was not an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do,” College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras said in a statement. “The mother wanted to prevent others from being hurt, and wants her son to get the help he needs.”
The mother was very emotional and loves her son. This was not an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras
The school district, in its own statement, encouraged students, staff and all residents to remain “aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”
In the city of Richland, roughly an hour’s drive northwest of College Place, another student was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly threatening their high school in a text message, a local TV station reported. Richland High School was reportedly placed in lockdown until the student could be located and removed from the school. This incident was unrelated to the College Place threat, police told HuffPost.
A recent study of violent incidents in K-12 schools across the country found that more than 3,434 threats and incidents of violence had taken place during the 2018-2019 school year.
Incidents that required outside response were found to have increased by 34% from the 2017-2018 school year. The number of reported threats, however, had declined by 9.5% compared to the previous year, according to the Violence in Schools report from the Educator’s School Safety Network.
“A heightened awareness and adoption of a ‘see something, say something’ perspective by school stakeholders is a positive trend that may account for at least some of the increased number of reported threats,” the non-profit school safety organization said. “This does not change the reality, however, that threats of violence continue to be a significant concern impacting schools.”
While the 3,058 reported threats in the 2018-2019 school year were less than the year before, they still totaled a nearly 50% increase compared to the 2016-2017 school year, the analysis found.
Washington state recently passed several firearms-related bills, including one that prohibits domestic abusers and those with mental health issues and a history of violence from obtaining guns.
The state also raised the legal age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21 and implemented a safe storage provision that makes a gun owner criminally responsible if their weapon is obtained by someone prohibited from possessing a firearm, such as a child or a felon. Exceptions are if the firearm was kept in a lockbox or safe yet still somehow accessed by a prohibited person or if it was reported stolen within a timely manner, the Seattle Times reported.
Some local law enforcement agencies have said they will not enforce the new laws, arguing that they violate Second Amendment rights.