A Columbine style massacre planned by two teens was averted after their teacher recovered a detailed map of the school indicating the security cameras in the building. Students of Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, Connor Pruett (13) and Phillip Byrd (14), were arrested and slapped with a count of conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.
The middle school students, who were arrested on Saturday, were produced before the judge on Sunday. The duo will be in secure juvenile detention for 21 days.
Boys Had Marked Security Cameras on the Map
Deemed to be the deadliest high school shooting of its time, 17 people including students and teacher were dead in the massacre which took place on April 20,1999. The shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were studying in Class Twelfth grade in the same school. After killing 10 students in the library, the duo committee suicide.
According to NY Daily News, the alert was sounded after a teacher was tipped about a student carrying a gun in his backpack. Even though the weapon could not be found during the locker search, the school resource officer recovered a map detailing the security cameras installed in the building.
Addressing a press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that it could have been the next Parkland massacre, but the students were stopped in the planning stages.
"We were one second away from Columbine here. I'm certain that my team of dedicated deputies and detectives acted promptly, investigated thoroughly and prevented a very violent and dangerous incident from being carried out," said the Sheriff.
Boys Were Inspired by Columbine Shooters
The authorities revealed that the teen boys had studied the Columbine shooting and were inspired by the gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The outlet reported that the authorities also accused the boys of learning how to make pipe bombs and researching how to purchase firearms off the black market.
According to the to the Lee County Sheriff's office, deputies found a gun and several knives during the search of the boys' home. The school's principal, Alex Dworzanski said that the school has is safe for students to return.
Wink News reported that while the judge said he believed the two teens committed a juvenile act, Byrd's mother Carrie Tuller came to the defense of her son. "He's just a little boy. He didn't think this was really serious. He didn't think they were serious," Tuller said while adding that she will be changing her son's school.