Lehigh Acres, Florida has a population of around 107,000 residents near Fort Myers. On September 8, a Harns Marsh Middle School School teacher was told by a classmate that a student possibly had a gun in his backpack. That situation began an investigation which revealed a plot by two teens to start another Columbine style shooting.
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When school authorities searched the student’s backpack, they found no gun. But the search revealed a map that had markings which showed the positions of the school’s security cameras. It is fortunate that the investigation didn’t stop when no gun was found – the result could have been deadly.
No weapon was found, but the deputy allegedly discovered that the boys had spoken to each other during lunch about a school shooting plot. A map of the school was found that included the locations of surveillance cameras.
Police were notified and detectives found the boys had been researching the Columbine shooting, how to build a pipe bomb and how to buy guns on the black market.
Officers searched their homes and found guns, ammunition and knives.The Evening Standard
BREAKING @SheriffLeeFL announces 2 Harns Marsh Middle School students in Lehigh Acres FL arrested for plotting a mass shooting at school.— Honor with Action Coalition (@Honor_W_Action) September 9, 2021
Teacher got tip that 8th grader had gun in their backpack. Deputies didn't find gun but the student had a detailed map of school cameras. pic.twitter.com/uwt0mbRoh8
Two Lehigh Acres students, Connor Pruett, 13, and Phillip Byrd, 14, are well known to Lee County Sheriff’s deputies. Police had responded to their homes previously a combined 80 times.
Byrd’s mother Carrie Tuller defended her son in the court room on Sunday.
He’s just a little boy. He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.Carrie Tuller, Phillip Byrd’s mother (WINK)
From the items discovered, the map, the research, somebody was serious. The two were held at a Mental Health Facility just after their arrest, and detained for juvenile detention afterward.
#BREAKING: Minutes ago the two teens accused of plotting a mass shooting at Harns Marsh Middle were just released from a mental health facility. Connor Pruitt and Phillip Byrd will be taken to a juvenile detention center now @NBC2 pic.twitter.com/oJz0P14eo5— Cristina Mendez (@CrisMendezTV) September 11, 2021
The boys were charged with Conspiracy to Commit a Mass Shooting. At their first appearance on Sunday, they were ordered held at a Juvenile detention facility for 21 days. Lee County Sheriff’s Office was looking into an Extreme risk Protection Order to restrict the boys from access to weapons. Their next court date is September 27.
This could have turned disastrous. We were one second away from a Columbine here.Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno
Featured photo: screenshot via Police Tribune
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