Share This Page

Students in L.A.-area shooting plot willing to die, police say

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 4:48 p.m.

Authorities in a middle-class bedroom community east of Los Angeles said two teens arrested this week had developed a “huge plan” to carry out a school shooting in which they wanted to kill “as many people as possible.”

South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller on Tuesday told reporters that the two boys, 16 and 17, had researched weaponry, explosives and methods for disarming people.

The teens, who have not been identified, “very cold-heartedly” discussed their plans with each other online.

“As they put it, they just wanted to kill as many people as possible,” Miller said.

The teens, who were arrested on Monday, told investigators they were willing to die in a shootout with police, Miller added.

Police began the around-the-clock investigation on Thursday based on a tip about a possible school shooting plot that was relayed to administrators at South Pasadena High School, he said.

The investigation included reviewing social media posts and “Internet surveillance,” Miller said. On Monday, police served search warrants at the boys' home. No weapons were found at the home, and there was no target date, he added.

There was some “pretty frightening information” gleaned from the computers and interviews with the suspects, Miller said.

“As they were planning it they had a very specific plan on how they were going to carry out their sick mission,” he said.

The FBI, he added, was assisting with the ongoing forensics investigation.

News of the alleged plot shocked many in this close-knit community, including Deb McCurdy, who will be president of the parent-teacher association next year.

“We're stunned but relieved the systems in place worked,” she said.

South Pasadena High student Hanna Crowley, 16, said she “could not have imagined” a mass shooting could have happened at the campus.

“You would think someone from the outside would do this, but never a student,” the incoming senior said.

Police planned to turn over the results of their investigation so far to county prosecutors for consideration of possible charges.

The teens were being held on suspicion of conspiracy and criminal threats, Miller said.

The lack of weapons, meanwhile, appeared to temper some of the fear.

“It's very alarming and very sad, the good thing is, it was detected,” said Graham Witherall, whose daughter attends South Pasadena High. “I'm curious about whether this was a couple of kids fantasizing, or if this was a real plot.”

Two Santa Clarita Valley teens were also arrested over the weekend on suspicion of making threats of deadly school violence on social media. But Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials determined the boys, ages 13 and 15, had made the threats as pranks that spiraled out of control.

Their identities also were not released.

South Pasadena, McCurdy said, is a safe, small community, and a mass killing would seem unlikely there.

“But you know, it can happen anywhere,” she said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.