A high school student in Pennsylvania is being hailed as a hero for preventing a potential tragedy after overhearing and recording a conversation in which another student discussed plans to shoot and kill four classmates and one relative. The conversation took place on a school bus and that led police to make a shocking discovery, the Herald-Standard reports.
Teen Takes Action
Police haven’t identified the Uniontown High School student who alerted them or the students who were allegedly targeted. Authorities notified the parents of the potential victims about the alleged plan within two hours.
A 14-year-old boy from Henry Clay Township has been arrested in connection with the case and state police have seized a sizable cache of weapons that included at least five guns and other weapons in the teen’s bedroom, TribLive reports. This means that police “were able to avert a catastrophe” said Fayette County District Attorney Rich Bower.
“The Pennsylvania State Police found in the juvenile’s bedroom: one semi-automatic rifle, one shotgun, two machetes, throwing knives, two lever-action rifles, a revolver, a crossbow with arrows and bulk ammunition,” Bowers said.
The home’s cellphones were also confiscated.
Bower expressed his gratitude to the student and his parents, who reported the conversation to police.
“Quite frankly the parents and the child who reported this are actually the heroes here,” he said. “Had they not reported this, there could have been a major tragedy at Uniontown High School.”
The teen who was arrested apparently thought bringing weapons into the school would be a simple task, WTAE reports.
“He (the suspect) indicated that it would be extremely easy to sneak a gun into the school in his backpack, and he also indicated that he could use a sniper rifle from a distance or use a shotgun for mass casualties,” Bower said.
But the school has metal detectors at the entrance doors, which means it wouldn’t be easy to sneak a gun in, said Assistant Superintendent Dan Bosnic.
“I don’t believe that to be the case for him being able to sneak in weapons,” he said. Student safety is a top priority in the district, he added.
Police have not identified the suspect, who was taken to a juvenile detention center. He is being charged with terroristic threats, possession of a firearm by a minor and attempting to cause a catastrophe, Bower said.
A larger police presence was felt in the Uniontown area due to the threat, and handheld metal detectors were used to check students as classes began, noted Trooper Robert Broadwater.
“It goes without saying that there was probably a catastrophe averted today by the quick response of all involved,” Bower said. “We can only thank God that the parent and child called, or it would be probably not something that we’re talking about not happening. It could have been probably something that would have happened, and it would have been a terrible thing for our community.”
It isn’t clear why the suspect allegedly planned to shoot his relative and the four students, nor is it clear if the relative had any connections to the school, Bower said.
“That’s the interesting thing about this nowadays — these kids see way too much video games and stuff on TV,” Bower said. “He just didn’t like them. That’s what we’re dealing with here.”
One resident, Harry Strauser, said he’s thankful that authorities acted in time to stop the tragedy. His son and daughter attend the school, along with about 800 other students.
“I’m definitely glad they were able to thwart it and the response that was there,” he said. “But I wish we had been notified before (Friday) morning.”
While it’s a relief that a potentially horrific situation has been averted, another high school in the area has been targeted with a similar but unrelated threat to shoot students. Classes will not be held Monday at Laurel Highland School District, said Superintendent Jesse T. Wallace. Teachers, however, will report to the school and there will be a heightened police presence as well.
Kudos to the quick-witted teen who reported the conversation and to local police who responded quickly. This was a success, but there have been 11 school shootings since the beginning of this year and at least two people have died. How many more shootings have to occur before we have decent gun control laws in this country?
Politicians like Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans fight gun control laws tooth and nail. It’s time to give them new jobs.
Here’s what Bowers has to say in the video below.
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