Two Florida teens accused of planning a school shooting at a Lee County middle school appeared in front of a judge on Sunday.
The suspects, identified as Connor Pruett, 13, and Phillip Byrd, 14, will be held in a juvenile detention facility for 21 days as they undergo a mental evaluation, WINK News reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference that a student at Harns Marsh Middle School told a teacher that one of the two boys had a gun in their backpack. The tip was forwarded to the school resource officer and administration.
“He’s just a little boy,” Byrd’s mother Carrie Tuller said during the court hearing. “He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.”
Sheriff Carmine Marceno said officers didn’t find a gun in the students’ backpack but found a map of the school with surveillance cameras locations marked. The teens were allegedly in the process of learning how to make pipe bombs and purchase firearms on the black market.
According to Marceno, the pair was obsessed with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, where seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.
The News-Press reported that police searched one of the boys’ homes on Thursday and discovered a gun and several knives. Marceno noted that they responded to that home on 80 previous instances, but he did not reveal what those calls entailed.
The suspects are charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting. They are not allowed on the school property and not allowed to contact each other.
Their next court date is scheduled for September 27. Check back for updates.
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[Featured image: WINK video screengrab]