Four students arrested over US campus shooting plot

NEW YORK • Four high school students in California have been arrested in connection with what officials called a highly detailed plan to shoot and kill fellow students and teachers, just days after a mass shooting on a community college campus in Oregon.

The four, all students at Summerville High School in Tuolumne, California, "were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible", Sheriff James Mele of Tuolumne County said last week.

He did not identify the students other than to say all were male juveniles. Investigators have found no clear motive for the planned attack, but he said "the suspects' plans were very detailed in nature and included names of would-be victims, locations and methods in which the plan was to be carried out".

The students planned to open fire during a school event, he said, and "were in the process of trying to obtain these weapons". Officials said the plot was foiled last Wednesday when a group of students alerted a teacher after they overheard three of the four discussing their plan.

The teacher immediately told school administrators, who quickly removed the three from their classrooms and called the police. Sheriff Mele said the fourth suspect was identified during the investigation.

A search of the students' lockers by administrators turned up no weapons, said Mr Robert Griffith, superintendent of Summerville Union High School District. But Sheriff Mele said the plot had been "pretty doggone close" to fruition. During interviews with the suspects, they gave a detailed confession, he said. The police executed two search warrants and seized the suspects' electronic devices.

The students' parents were notified and are cooperating in the investigation, he said. He praised them for their help and called their assistance "a key element" in foiling the plot.

Mr Eric Hovatter, an assistant district attorney, said his office would file charges. "It is clear from past history such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, as well as other recent events in Oregon, that children are willing and capable of planning and carrying out acts of violence against students and teachers on school grounds," he said.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'Four students arrested over US campus shooting plot'. Print Edition | Subscribe