In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, students have demanded that Congress enact gun control legislation, and President Donald Trump has already responded by moving to ban bump stocks, an attachment used by the Las Vegas shooter which the NRA said should be regulated, and by calling for the strengthening of background checks.
And while the idea of raising the age limit to buy a gun is also being kicked around, what you may not know is that in the month of February, there have been at least three other incidents where potential school shootings were foiled before they could occur, unlike what happened in Florida.
Joshua O’Connor of Washington, 18, Cullen Shafer of Michigan, 17, and an unidentified 17-year-old in California were all stopped this month from carrying out their alleged plots.
O’Connor was reported to authorities by his own grandmother after she reportedly read disturbing journal entries that detailed his plans to shoot up his school on April 19, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
According to court documents, the Everett, Washington, teen wrote that he was “ecstatic for April 19th” and chose his current school, ACES High School, over his former school, Kamiak High School, based on a coin flip.
“The results: I’m coming for you Ace’s. Damn Kamiak you [expletive] got lucky … I can’t wait to [expletive] up Ace’s! April is gonna be a blast,” an excerpt from the journal reads, according to local outlet the Herald.
The grandmother is being credited by police for seeing something and saying something, after she reportedly went into O’Connor’s room, read the diary and discovered a gun in a guitar case. That gun was reportedly an AK-47, which O’Connor is also accused of using in a convenience store robbery the day before his Feb. 13 arrest.
“This is a case where the adage ‘see something, say something’ potentially saved many lives,” said Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman in a statement last Thursday.
O’Connor is being held on $5 million bail and faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and third-degree assault for kicking a police officer.
In Michigan, 17-year-old Cullen Shafer has been arrested on a charge of making terroristic threats.
Shafer, students said, made threats “to shoot up” Brethren High School, and so students notified school officials about him. The school forwarded the warning to the police, and they knocked on Shafer’s door.
They reportedly found an AR-15 in the home and confiscated it, along with Shafer’s cellphone. Police said the gun belongs to his parents, who surrendered it to authorities willingly for safekeeping.
Shafer admitted that he made threats but claimed he was joking, UpNorthLive reports. He was arrested and taken to Manistee County Jail where he was being held on $100,000 bond.
While he has already been released on bond, a conviction on the charge against him means, at the most, 20 years in prison.
Notably, Shafer reportedly posted on Facebook two days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, saying, “It’s not the gun thats the problem. It’s the person thats holding the gun.”
Finally, in Whittier, California, a 17-year-old student at El Camino High School was foiled by a security guard who overheard the threat, police said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that a security guard overhead a “disgruntled student” threaten to open fire on the school on Friday, just two days after the Florida shooting.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Associated Press that deputies discovered “multiple guns and ammunition” after searching the student’s home.
The Whittier Daily News reports that an attorney for the school district said this was “a threat to come back and bring a gun.”
Also of note this month, 17-year-old John Staley III of Columbus, Ohio was sentenced to four years in prison and five years’ probation for “plot[ting] … a mass school shooting” in October 2016.
Prosecutor Joe Gibson said Staley III “researched firearms” and “[w]hen it became difficult to get firearms, he researched parts of firearms so that he could assemble them at the school.”
Staley III also tried to recruit other students to participate and was found to have neo-Nazi propaganda on his computer.
He faced a maximum of 11 years behind bars.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.