The actions of one person can make a major difference and save lives. That’s what a community in Washington state found out just one day before the tragic school shooting thousands of miles away in Florida.
A deranged young man in Everett, Washington may have been just days away from carrying out a planned mass shooting at a high school. His grandmother discovered evidence of the plan, and made the decision to go to the police and turn her own grandson in.
According to The Everett Herald, 18-year-old Joshua Alexander O’Connor had written in a journal that he intended to kill students in an elaborate plot, and had begun preparations to do so.
“I’m preparing myself for the school shooting,” O’Connor allegedly wrote in a journal, leaving little doubt about his intentions. “I can’t wait. My aim has gotten much more accurate … I can’t wait to walk into that class and blow all those (expletives) away.”
His grandmother, who has not been named, was shocked when she discovered a semi-automatic rifle hidden in Alexander O’Connor’s guitar case. It was clear that the young man’s plans went far beyond a single rifle, however.
“He went into detail about building pressure-cooker bombs, activating inert grenades and deploying explosives for maximum casualties,” the Herald reported.
“I need to make this count,” O’Connor is accused of writing in his journal. “I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings) I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes.”
The journal also described flipping a coin to decide which school to target, eventually settling on Kamiak High School.
O’Connor’s plans had gone so far forward that he committed at least one armed robbery in order to prepare for the assault. “Police believe it was a holdup from 10 p.m. Monday in the 900 block of W Casino Road. Security cameras showed two masked robbers entered the store,” explained the Herald.
“One pointed what the cashier thought was an AK-47 rifle, although part of the gun was covered by a sweatshirt, according to court papers. The pair left with about $100. Cash from the robbery was supposed to help fund the school shooting,” the newspaper continued.
O’Connor apparently admitted to the robbery, but police are still investigating his accomplice.
It’s worth noting that laws against armed robbery did not prevent this accused criminal of carrying it out. The determination to use any means possible — including pressure-cooker bombs — and to steal whatever was needed for the plan is a strong indication that more laws are not the answer to stop these tragedies.
If this 18-year-old student was in fact planning the deadly attack he is accused of, the decision by his grandmother to say something to authorities almost certainly prevented bloodshed
“Our main thing right now is gratitude, especially to the grandmother,” said Andy Muntz, a representative of the Mukilteo School District. “That couldn’t have been easy for her to do. The Everett police also did a wonderful job. That combination may have saved a lot of lives.”
“It is critically important for community members, to include students and parents, to remain observant and immediately report odd or suspicious behaviors with our children or with fellow students,” agreed Chief Dan Templeman of the Everett Police Department.
That may be one of the most effective ways to stop twisted individuals from carrying out mass violence: People who are willing to speak up when something is clearly wrong, and investigators who don’t shrug off warning signs when they’re found.
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