Florida teens plotting school massacre searched online for instructions, sheriff says


LEE COUNTY, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Police in Lee County are now even more certain that they broke up what could have been another devastating tragedy after executing warrants on the electronic devices of two teens accused of plotting a school shooting there

“We learned through their internet searches these two suspects were not only researching how to build a pipe bomb, explosive device, but they’re researching what’s the consequences of their acts,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.

He also praised the school community for acting on reports of the plot.

“Look at the student, look at the teacher, the [school resource officer], the heroes that if one of those links come out … maybe we’re standing here today talking about a mass shooting,” he said.

It was a week ago when a teacher at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers, alerted school administrators and a school resource officer about the tip from students. While a search of an eighth-grader’s backpack did not turn up a reported weapon, administrators said they found a map indicating the location of each of the school’s interior cameras.

Wednesday’s evidence further implicates the two alleged accomplices, both teens who had allegedly been studying the Columbine massacre from 1999. The arrest report said that they were being held for “attempts, solicitation, and conspiracy to conduct a homicide.”

One of the boys’ parents told NewsNation Monday their son’s intentions were being overstated.

“The rifle [investigators] took out of here wasn’t a rifle — it was a BB gun,” said the boy’s father, Christopher Tuller.

“He wouldn’t use them to hurt anyone,” said his mother, Carrie Tuller. “They made it sound really bad.”

His parents say there’s no way they are wrong about their son. “He’s a good kid,” Christopher Tuller said.

One of the lessons from the Columbine shooting, and another Florida school massacre in Parkland, Florida in 2018, was to heighten parental and school awareness and to report suspect behavior. 

“We would rather look into a million things and have it be nothing than to sit here and talk about an incident that could have been prevented,” Marceno said.

Brian Entin contributed to this report.

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