Mom Turns in 17-Year-Old Son Over School Shooting Plan

Police are praising the mother for reporting her concerns about a potential school shooting to them.

Mom Turns in 17-Year-Old Son Over School Shooting Plan

The boy's mother discovered her son was thinking about committing a school shooting and bombing when she looked through his journal.

Law enforcement officials say they’ve stopped a potential mass school shooting at College Place High School in College Place, Washington.

The school shooting and bombing plot of a 17-year-old boy was discovered by his mother, named Nicole, who then reported her concerns to local police.

The boy wrote in his journal about attacking his school on April 20, 2020, which is the 21st anniversary of the Columbine High School mass school shooting, reports CBS News. He described detonating pipe bombs and using multiple guns to “blast anyone in sight” and “execute survivors.”

Nicole (she wouldn’t provide her last name) was hesitant to turn in her son because he told her what he wrote in his journal was just a creative writing exercise. Despite her misgivings, she turned him in, saying he’s been battling depression. She wants him to get help.

Local police lauded the mother for her actions.

“She’s very courageous,” said College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras. “It’s clearly very emotional for her. She loves her son.”

This is just the latest in a long line of cases where tips via an anonymous tip line or a courageous student, teacher or family member have thwarted school shootings, violence and other inappropriate behavior.

Last year, Joshua O’Connor, 18. was arrested at ACES High School  in Everett, Washington– the day before the Parkland school shooting – after his grandmother contacted police regarding his journal.

Although family members sometimes tip off authorities about concerning behavior of a family member who is a student, more often than not, a student’s peers are the ones who discover and then report their classmate’s plans for school violence.

The following are recommendations from the Police Foundation on preventing school shootings and other types of K-12 campus violence or concerning behavior:

  • Schools and law enforcement must have a strong, pre-established relationship and open lines of communication before an attack occurs.
  • Students who hear threats of violence from other students should take them seriously and report them to school or other authorities immediately. Based on our preliminary study, in over half of the open source incidents we studied, students were the first to discover another student’s plans for school violence.
  • Students should be trained not only to recognize threats of violence but also to recognize signs of suicide or depression.
  • Parents should monitor their child’s social media accounts and remain aware of their general Internet use for any concerning searches or violent material.
  • Potential perpetrators of violence frequently make direct threats or openly discuss their violent plans with others. In some instances, they use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat to share violent plans or thoughts, or to express disdain for a school/situation.
  • Parents should take their children’s threats of violence seriously and seek assistance from law enforcement, mental health professionals and other service providers.
  • Parents should keep all guns in a locked and secure location if they are in the home.
  • School personnel, school resource officers, campus police and security officers should strive to develop and maintain rapport with students so they are aware of students who are bullied, feel excluded, depressed or challenged in other ways so they can connect them to services.
  • Schools must continuously update and practice their emergency communication systems and response plans.
  • Schools should have a plan in place for timely communication of incidents to parents.
  • Schools, particularly universities and higher education campus, should be aware that financial distress can be a trigger for violence.
  • Schools should notify all staff when a student is suspended or expelled. That student should not be allowed back on campus the same day of the suspension or expulsion.
  • Schools should direct concerns through a “safety team” for review and to design an appropriate course of action.
  • Schools must be vigilant at entrance locations and have sufficient staff to process and observe individuals entering the school.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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