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Teenagers accused of plotting 'next Parkland massacre' at Florida middle school

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/13/2021 Adam Regan, Fort Myers News-Press
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two teenagers are accused of planning a mass shooting at a Florida middle school that the local sheriff said would’ve been comparable to the 2018 Parkland school shooting, where 17 people were killed.

The 13- and 14-year old boys were arrested Thursday and face charges of conspiracy to commit a mass shooting following a student tip given to a teacher that one of them was in possession of a gun in his backpack Wednesday at Harns Marsh Middle School.

“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, referring to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 14 students and three staff members died. The middle school is about 2 hours west of Parkland. 

a man wearing a suit and tie: Lee County Sheriff, Carmine Marceno, talked about a recent investigation into school threat at Harns Marsh Middle School. Two boys were investigated after a student alerted a teacher to the possibility of a gun in the school. A gun was never found, but a map of the school and all of the cameras were found. A search of the home found multiple guns and other weapons in the boy's possession. The boys are getting mental heath help. Lee County Schools Superintendent Ken Savage also spoke to the threat. A few of the Sheriff Deputies were also on hand. © Andrea Melendez/The News-Press/USA Today,Florida Network Lee County Sheriff, Carmine Marceno, talked about a recent investigation into school threat at Harns Marsh Middle School. Two boys were investigated after a student alerted a teacher to the possibility of a gun in the school. A gun was never found, but a map of the school and all of the cameras were found. A search of the home found multiple guns and other weapons in the boy's possession. The boys are getting mental heath help. Lee County Schools Superintendent Ken Savage also spoke to the threat. A few of the Sheriff Deputies were also on hand.

The tip was reported to the school resource officer. Deputies did not find a firearm when they searched the eighth-grader's bag, but they found a map of the school with markings indicating the school’s interior security cameras, Marceno said. 

The News-Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, isn't naming the suspects because they are juveniles.

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After an investigation, detectives determined the teenagers were studying the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, where two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher.

Marceno said the boys were taking steps to learn how to construct pipe bombs and how to obtain firearms on the black market. 

A search of one of the boys’ homes Thursday morning turned up a gun and several knives.

Marceno said said deputies have responded to the boy's homes nearly 80 times combined, but he did not elaborate for what reasons.

Both of the teenagers are being evaluated at a mental health facility, Marceno said.

Lee County Superintendent Ken Savage said students were safe and that  he was grateful to the sheriff’s office for its swift action.

“Thank you, Sheriff Carmine Marceno and your team, for your quick response and actions to protect our students and staff,” Savage said.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Teenagers accused of plotting 'next Parkland massacre' at Florida middle school

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