Four students have been arrested for planning to commit a mass shooting at their school, according to USA Today:
Among the evidence, deputies said they found a list of the names of the targeted victims. Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele said the students confessed.
When asked what they said, Mele responded: "that they were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible."
The suspects were taken into custody Saturday and attended Summerville High School in Tuolumne, California. These arrests come after Chris Harper-Mercer committed a similar act of horror at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon last week. Mercer killed nine people in the attack before committing suicide after engaging with police.
As it’s been previously reported by The New York Times, perpetrators of mass shootings fit a profile, though it’s one that’s also shared by million of other Americans who don’t commit acts of violence. Most of the firearms used in these attacks are purchased legally, and often the shooters exhibit symptoms of mental illness. Furthermore, the perpetrators sometimes specifically target individuals, like with this foiled plot, or shoot their victims at random, which makes detection of something that’s already unpredictable more difficult.
In this instance, an alert student body alerted the authorities when they overheard the four suspects detailing their plans for this horrific attack (via the Modesto Bee):
No weapons were found, but Mele said the students were in the process of trying to obtain some to carry out the attack.
“(They were) pretty dog-gone close. (Close) enough to keep me up last night, to keep my detectives and lieutenants up last night. There was an event that would be coming up that they specifically talked about,” Mele said. “To talk about specifically what, I don’t want to, but enough to move forward ... that we took four children away from their homes in order to protect other children.”
Mele said he did not know the motive for the planned attack, though he said bullying and cyber-bullying continues to be a problem on campuses across the country. He also addressed the issue of violence in the media.
“I have no idea why a group of individuals would want to do this,” he said. “When we turn on the TV, violence is always on, or at our fingertips on the computer. I think children today have a hard time trying to understand the difference between what is reality and fiction. To say why, I don’t know why. I do know the discussion needs to start not only in our community, but throughout the nation, about what can we do to stop this violence.”
Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter said his office will collect the information about the case from the sheriff’s department at the beginning of the week and begin to decide what charges will be filed. The four suspects will be arraigned as juveniles before a Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge.
Nevertheless, good police work, Tuolumne County. Many lives were saved.