‘Far Too Much Planning’ Went Into Florida Mass Shooting Plot: Police

Sumter County Sheriff's Office(LADY LAKE, Fla.) -- New details have emerged in the alleged mass shooting plot by two teenagers on a Florida middle school.

"Far too much planning" went into the alleged mass shooting plan for The Villages Charter Middle School in Lady Lake, Florida, said Sumter County Sheriff's Capt. James "Chris" Haworth. Two boys -- ages 13 and 14 -- came up with the alleged plan after they researched the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, Haworth told ABC News.

Haworth described the amount of detail the students put into the alleged plot, which was planned for Friday, as "very specific" and "serious enough to the point that the other children were scared -- scared enough to come forward and say something."

The teens allegedly told fellow students to wear white on Friday if they didn't want to get shot, Haworth said. But, in subsequent interviews with the teens, that request was revealed to be a ruse, Haworth said.

"They wanted them to wear white because the blood shows better on a white shirt," Haworth said.

The teens told investigators that "they were going to drop a pencil, and that would be the initiating of the shooting," Haworth said. Witnesses also indicated that some students were warned to not attend school on Friday, according to a police press release.

After school ended on Tuesday, it was reported to a school resource officer that rumors had been circulating among students about a planned mass shooting at the school for Friday, Haworth said.

On Tuesday, the 13-year-old student was allegedly overheard saying he was going to "shoot up the school on Friday," according to a police affidavit released by the sheriff's office.

Police intercepted one of the accused teens on their way into school on Wednesday, and after preliminary interviews, "It was quickly divulged that they had been, in fact, planning a school shooting," Haworth said.

The accused 13-year-old confirmed to the school resource officer Wednesday that he and another 14-year-old student were plotting the shooting, Haworth said. During the interview with the school principal and resource officer, he said that he had made a dumb statement about the Columbine shooting the previous day, telling the 14-year-old, "Imagine if that was me shooting," according to the police affidavit. He then told students around him not to come to school on Friday.

The 13-year-old also told the school resource officer that he had been suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, saying, "I just want to die."

The 14-year-old said he discussed the details of the alleged plan with the 13-year-old because he thought it was a joke, according to the police affidavit.

Haworth said the threat was not a joke and that police are taking it seriously because of how much detail went into the alleged plot and because the students had allegedly conducted research on the Columbine shooting.

"This was real," Haworth said of the alleged plot.

After being questioned on Wednesday, the two students were taken into custody to be evaluated, Michelle Keszey, media manager at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News. It is her understanding that the students went home following the evaluation, she said.

The two students were then arrested Thursday at their homes, Haworth said. Multiple firearms were found at the 14-year-old's house in Wildwood, Florida, including a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the nightstand in his parent's bedroom, a loaded semi-automatic gun in a family vehicle and an assortment of other guns in a safe, Haworth said.

A loaded semi-automatic rifle was also found in the 13-year-old's home in Fruitland Park, Florida. No weapons were found on either of the students or in their bags or lockers when they were apprehended at school on Wednesday, police said in a release.

In an interview, the 14-year-old said that his father owns a gun, but added that it was locked up, according to the police affidavit. The teen also said that the two never discussed what guns they were going to use in the alleged plot.

A student told police that the 13-year-old had recently attended a tribute to the Holocaust and had showed up to school with swastikas on his hands and Nazi logos on his arms, according to the police affidavit.

Both teens are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and are currently at a juvenile assessment center in Ocala, Florida, Haworth said. The Florida State Attorney’s Office will determine whether they will be tried in juvenile or adult court, Keszey said. They have not yet entered a plea.

While it is still early in the investigation, there is nothing to indicate that the teens' parents will be charged as well, Haworth said.

More than half of the school's students were not in attendance Friday, Haworth said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Police: Victims of San Francisco UPS shooting appear to have been targeted

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The three people who were shot and killed at a San Francisco UPS facility last week appeared to have been targeted, police announced Friday.The shooter, identified as 38-year-old UPS employee Jimmy Lam, ga...