Story at a glance:

  • Two middle school students from Florida were arrested for conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.
  • Searching both the teens’ houses, authorities found a gun and several knives.
  • Another student told a teacher that they suspected one of the boys had a gun in his backpack.

Two middle school students from Florida were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.

Inspired by the event of April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School, 13-year-old Conner Pruett and 14-year-old Phillip Byrd mapped out locations of where all the cameras were in their school and were suspected of bringing a gun into Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, NBC 2 Fort Myers reported.


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Authorities and school staff were officially made aware of the incident after another student told a teacher that they suspected one of the boys had a gun in his backpack. The pair had been planning to commit the shooting between Sept. 1 and Sept. 8 and were discussing it during classes, in the cafeteria and on Zoom meetings, according to witnesses and NBC. 

The two students also took out a map of the school and explained to another student that the dots signified where they would set off gas as a distraction before going into the cafeteria and shooting.

Ken Savage, superintendent of the Lee County school district, said, “As soon as students reported the potential threat, the teacher notified administrators, who immediately brought in the school resource officer,” WSB-TV reported

“Together, they emptied the classroom and investigated. Students were safe at all times,” Savage said.

Byrd was allegedly the “mastermind” behind the plan, according to witnesses and NBC. 

The two students had an interest in Columbine and were going to buy weapons off the black marketplace, NBC reported.

Searching both teens’ houses, authorities found a gun and several knives.

"We were one second away from a Columbine here," Sheriff Marceno said. "I’m certain that my team of dedicated deputies and detectives acted promptly, investigated thoroughly and prevented a very violent and dangerous act from being carried out.”

The teens were given 21 days in juvenile detention, forbidden to communicate with anyone from school or talk to each other. 


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Published on Sep 14, 2021