MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Two Florida middle schoolers with an apparent interest in the Columbine High School massacre, are now in custody, for allegedly plotting to carry out a school shooting of their own.
A teacher at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres in Southwest Florida received a tip that a student had a gun on campus. When deputies searched the student’s backpack, they found a map of the school that had security cameras circled.READ MORE: FHP Searching For Men Accused Of Carjacking Good Samaritans
After searching the school, deputies went to the homes of 13-year-old Conner Pruitt and 14-year-old Phillip Byrd, where they found guns and several knives.
“They were planning this; they might have been planning this all summer just waiting for school to open. My kid could have been a child who got hurt or any kid,” a resident said.
Investigators said Pruitt and Byrd did their research.
“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,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.READ MORE: US Dept. Of Health: Number Of COVID-19 Hospitalizations In Florida Continue To Decline
Deputies said the duo had mapped out the school and circled each security camera on campus.
After interviewing Pruitt and Byrd, detectives determined they both met the criteria for evaluation at a mental health facility.
They are both charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.
Marceno said both teens are well known to law enforcement and have been to their homes more than 80 times combined.
“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages,” Marceno said. “I’m also proud of the teacher who initially received the information and acted quickly in notifying the SRO and school administration.”MORE NEWS: Florida Joins Fight Against Partnership Between American Airlines & JetBlue
It’s a reminder from the sheriff’s office and school district that if you see something, say something.