Two juvenile boys Phillip Byrd, 14, and Connor Pruett, 13, planned to execute a shooting at the Harns Marsh Middle School near Fort Myers, Florida, that would match the 1999 Columbine massacre, was averted by their teacher.
Their plot was averted after some of the pupils reported to a teacher that one of their classmates had a handgun in his backpack. The school administration was notified, and while the gun was not found after a search, a map identifying the locations of surveillance cameras was discovered.
Bryd and Pruett had been studying the Columbine shooting carefully, attempting to learn how to manufacture a pipe bomb, and researching how to obtain guns on the illegal market when Lee County Police were informed. Ammunition, weapons, and many knives were discovered during a search of their homes by police.
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Carrie Tuller, Byrd’s mother, who couldn’t hold her tears, as she defended her son in court on Sunday, September 12. She stated, ”
“He’s just a little boy. He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.”
Philip Byrd and Connor Pruitt appeared in court for the first time on Sunday morning. They were sentenced to 21 days in juvenile jail without being allowed to talk to their classmates or each other.
They were sentenced after being brought into prison and charged with conspiracy to perpetrate a mass massacre after undergoing a mental health evaluation and were also told not to interact with school staff or pupils and to keep away from school grounds. The date of their next court appearance is September 27.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told reporters at a press conference:
“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.
“Detectives also learned the students were attempting to learn how to construct pipe bombs and how to purchase firearms on the black market. “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.
“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages.”
The teens were “well known” to police, according to Marceno, because cops had responded to calls from their residences roughly 80 times in total.