This terrifying news from the Star Tribune: “[The Attempted Murderer] had it all figured out. He would kill his mother, father and sister and then create a diversion to keep first responders busy while he went to Waseca Junior/Senior High School to wreak havoc. There, the 17-year-old planned to set off pressure-cooker bombs full of nails and metal ball bearings in the cafeteria. Students who weren’t maimed or killed would be gunned down in the halls, he told police.” I have redacted the name of the kid who planned the murder of his family, schoolmates and teachers . . .

I have no interest in making him famous. An alert citizen noted some hinky behavior by the teen in question as he skulked to his lair – a storage building where he’d been stockpiling bomb-making materials, ammunition and similar supplies. The cops showed up based on the report from a suspicious neighbor and arrested the 17-year-old, who’s described as idolizing the Columbine killers.

A few key points to ponder:

A young man bent on mass murder was not stopped by the fact that his school is a gun-free zone, laws against minors having firearms, laws against anyone making bombs, the presence of a “school liaison officer,” the lavish sprinkling of fairy dust or the liberal application of unicorn farts. Thanks to good guys with guns stopped a bad guy with guns, in this case before he caused any actual harm.

This particular student had “plenty of friends” and apparently wasn’t bullied. The report does not say if he had trouble at home or exhibited any particular symptoms of depression or disaffection. While I personally think it’s important for a school environment to be peaceful for all students, here is an example of a kid who would likely have been missed in any kind of dragnet of outcasts.

Obviously, the school in question is a designated gun-free zone, so the prospect of resistance likely never entered the yoot’s fevered mind. That said, if he had known that, in addition to the liaison officer, some teachers and staff were armed and trained, would that have changed his calculus? We’ll never know. I am grateful that this killing spree was averted, but the satisfactory outcome had nothing at all to do with any of the measures promoted by the civilian disarmament crowd.

77 Responses to Mass School Shooting Averted – No Thanks to a Gun-Free Zone

    • If you want to look for drivers, look at their med history. Regardless…

      Our current ‘culture of victimization’ means sweet FA. Bombing, incinerating, or otherwise causing schools to have a bad day is inherent to American culture. Has been for nearly 100 years at most generous.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

      A sad part of having a free society is that sometimes, crazy people kill the others. There are no free rides, freedom ain’t free, and as much as we are all saddened, some bad news is inherent in a free society.

  1. Perhaps there should be a ‘non gun hero of the day’ award for the nosy neighbor.

  2. They got lucky this time. They really did. I’m thankful for that, truly. If this nut job had actually gotten around to executing his plan, it would have been Columbine all over again. The difference: it’s been claimed that this kid wasn’t bullied like that other gruesome-twosome were.

    • Dave Cullen does a number on the ‘bullying’ theory at Columbine people might find interesting, painting it as more of a media trope than really how the dynamics played out. He also has a good piece about how the media is complicit in the rise in spree killings by making stars of the killers.

      • “…the media is complicit in the rise in spree killings by making stars of the killers.”

        Indeed – that is why I did not mention the hateful turd’s name, and I rather wish “Big Journalism” would adopt a policy of not naming spree killers on the national stage. If I ran a newspaper or other media outlet, I would permit one mention, below the fold in the first story published, then after that, only refer to them as “the murderer” or the “alleged murderer” if there is a pending court case.

        • Personally, I think that would make it easier to have a fair and impartial trial, as well. If normal people have been hearing for 18 months about the heinous crimes of “Joe Blow”, where do you find truly impartial jurors?

        • Innocent until proven guilty, but I will for a moment assume the police got a real bad guy. When they are not guilty, the publicity, such as Florida hero George Zimmerman received, turn the healing process on its head because they are a national or international bad guy in the press.
          As for this incident, the press should report that Police captured a potential bad guy, but not name him unless he is a figure of regional or national familiarity such as Hernandez formerly of the Patriots. (it still cracks me up that a team in Massiveclueless would have such a name). But his name should not have been made public until a conviction.

        • I noticed that and appreciated it compared to most articles elsewhere and here that post their name all over with a nice glossy photo and the ‘reasons’ (i.e. excuses) they killed people. Columbine is a great example of how that worked and spawned plenty of copycatting.

  3. The good guys with guns might have been the direct method of stopping him but without somebody willing to let them know something was amiss they might not have been able to do so.

    Somebody was tired of hearing all the neighbors say “oh yes, he was a strange quiet guy but we had no idea!” after a mass killing.

  4. Glad people were on the alert and noticed this kid. So many people go about the day not watching surroundings or what is happening. I see shady stuff going down all the time. So I call the cops. People need to be responsible an not afraid to be armed and respond with force if need be.

  5. Is it possible that this guy was just a thug? Or does there HAVE to be some kind of psychological issue involved?

    • No. Thugs are bullies and criminals, yes, but they have some sort of self-preservation, doing whatever they think is in their best interest (often at the expense of others, obviously). Spree killers never intend to survive, and even a hardened criminal wouldn’t think that is’s a good idea to slaughter a bunch of strangers. Not to mention that he idolized the Columbine shooters, and he was almost certainly trying to follow in their footsteps (note that their spree ended when the blew their own brains out).

    • Good point, seems many folks are always thinking the guy mind is all screwed up. Maybe he’s just an “Ass Hole” and likes to hurt people??

  6. Numerous schools now have armed guards, and even better some now have certain teachers and/or staff and/or administration personnel with concealed carry permits and training how to use their chosen arms. This includes the inner-city school at which my beloved bride for the past ____ decades teaches.

    My wife and the staff have told me they feel much more safe now than ever before when their schools were “No Gun” zones. In some cases now, principals make the final decision on whether they and their personnel will be allowed to carry weapons. Especially the schools that are in higher crime areas are changing their rules, at least the ones I know.

    • I suppose I can get behind the principal having that authority, especially if it is on a case-by-case basis so he can exclude any possible nutbars on staff. But whatever decision the principal makes, everybody involved should be told to keep their mouths shut about it. Somebody wishing to perpetrate a massacre should have to GUESS where the target rich environments are.

  7. “Thanks to ood guys with guns stopped a bad guy with guns, in this case before he caused any actual harm.” I am assuming that “ood” guys is supposed to be good guys.

    • Ah, but you see, they just aren’t illegal enough.

      If we made this behavior extra-super-double-secret-mega-illegal, then everything will be fine. Just surrender a few more of your rights, and we’ll be done– promise. Look at this baby.

      • Don’t be ridiculous, all we have to do is make sure all guns are registered, really! Everyone knows you can’t shoot innocent children with a registered gun!

  8. Once again, Mr. “Sadistic Killer” is referred to, by the media, with first, middle and last names. Apparently it doesn’t sound right saying *just* first and last name…

    • The reason is that referring to crazed killers with their full multiple names makes them sound like grandiose megalomaniacs so in love with their own awesomeness that they couldn’t bear the thought of anybody else sharing their air.

  9. His name is already out there. Being bullied is never an excuse for mass murder. Has ANYONE not been bullied in their entire life? Yeah there’s a screw loose here. Glad they got him( IF you believe the media).

  10. So nice of the paper to detail his plans and explain where he went wrong. Learning from others’ mistakes is surely a wise way for someone else to do it better next time! /sarcasm

  11. I don’t know anyone that has a pressure cooker. Nobody NEEDS a pressure cooker. Why are they still legal?

    /sarc

    • We at Dads Demand Action for Common Sense Small Appliance Laws are appalled that minors were allowed to purchase pressure cookers. There should be Universal Background Checks for the purchase of any small appliance, limits on the capacity of small appliances and a mandatory 10 day waiting period for the purchase of a small appliance. Additionally, there should be a ban on internet sales. We support the right of Americans to keep and bear small appliances, but…

    • Well they are used to sterilize mason jars that have your mixture in them to inoculate with shroom spores so ya know…. Wait a minute, someone has just informed me that growing shrooms is illegal. Im with ya then, ban pressure cookers.

    • No child is safe – anyone – even a child – can walk into the local thrift store and for five dollars purchase a pressure cooker WITHOUT SO MUCH AS A BACKGROUND CHECK.

      We need to close the “retail store loophole” that is allowing our children to buy pressure cookers.

    • I’m a firm supporter of the second Amendment, BUT nobody needs a pressure cooker for hunting.

  12. So the Ood stopped this from happening? Was there also an odd blue police box found in the area?

  13. Bullying is just psycho babble. Each of these killers has been influenced by a pervasive nihilistic culture. This is right out of Dostoevsky.

    We are also seeing a transition from dhooter to bomber. Guns will become secondary. Bombs are easy to make and much deadlier than bullets.

    • Not to get all theological, but unless somebody is actually off their rocker (such as the murderer who attacked Gabby Giffords and killed several others) we are all responsible for our own sin.

      Were I a bully, I would be responsible before G-d for my sin, and I think scripture teaches that if we cause our brother to stumble, then we compound our sin. Still, if our brother stumbles, that’s on him too.

      It makes sense to me to consider the environment which may be fertile soil for creating monsters, but even in a perfect setting, a monster can crop up. The law, and our response, needs to reflect this unfortunate fact of humanity.

    • Bombs are also just about as much fun as guns, too. Witness exploding targets, just so cool!

  14. The thing is, if the teachers at the school could have been armed (something I’m staunchly in favor of, BTW), it wouldn’t much change the calculus in these kinds of broken minds. They’re planning on going out in a blaze, so the potential of getting shot by a teacher instead of a cop or themselves doesn’t change the game much for them. The only thing it does is potentially shorten the killing spree and reduce the death/injury count. Armed teachers won’t totally prevent this kind of spree killing from happening, but it will limit the damage these shitheads can do.

    • “The thing is, if the teachers at the school could have been armed (something I’m staunchly in favor of, BTW), it wouldn’t much change the calculus in these kinds of broken minds. ”

      I disagree. Even the mad are able to act in ways that are beneficial to their own goals. A man in our neighborhood was having a fit – and when I appeared, he would shut up and go back into his house. When he could no longer see me, he would go back to acting up.

      I kept watch until the police arrived and could get him the help he needed. Even people in the midst of an episode can be rational.

      • There’s a big difference between someone having a sudden screaming freak-out and someone spending months quietly and obsessively planning a killing spree, though, isn’t there? The guy planning the spree knows he’s not going to walk out of it unharmed. He doesn’t care, as long as he can accomplish his goal of causing terror and mayhem. Most of them are a terrible combination of suicidal and angry. So if there are a few armed folks where he’s going, he’ll likely just take that into account (perhaps by setting off bombs instead of shooting, as this kid was apparently planning).

    • Even if you are correct (I don’t think so, but that is just my opinion), that is certainly a worthwhile goal, particularly if my own tender ass is one of those saved by my gun!

    • “The only thing it does is potentially shorten the killing spree and reduce the death/injury count. “

      So it does change the calculus…A LOT.

      It may not stop them from doing it; perhaps nothing can, here in the real world. But, it sure lessen the damage they can cause. Seems at least like one good step in a layered approach.

    • Stinkeye,

      You are right on the money. Bad people always have the advantage because good people cannot morally or legally do anything until bad people make the first move … and that first move could be injuring/killing a few people. Thus, by definition, it is impossible to completely prevent bad people from harming good people. All good people can do is minimize the number of casualties. And the sooner an armed good guy confronts the bad guy, the sooner the injuring/killing stops.

  15. From what I heard the Columbine killers weren’t bullied at school. One of them was one of the “popular” ones while the other tagged along or something.

    Back on topic: glad it was averted. No doubt our enemies will use this against us. “See, you don’t need a gun just be cautious”.

  16. That was smart to withhold his name I wish MSM would take similar steps.

    My senior year of high school we had a similar incident some idiot posted online to his friend some vague message about 4/20 and justice or revenge or something and turns out the 14 year old had some improvised explosives, a few shotguns and some ammo squirreled away in his room. Turns out he was planning on using them in a nasty way…

  17. Hoooold on thar lil’ buddy! Bullies are just misunderstood. They’re just aktin out. Where’s the tolerance from the tolerance crowd?

  18. ALSO! The hero in this is the first responder. No, not those guys. The guy/gal that had situational awareness and took appropriate action by notifying the police. This is how it should be. Cops need support to be effective. Of course if said citizen has no time to notify, s/he must be armed to defend life and liberty. If we could have a nation that worked like this…wow!

  19. I would like to point out that in this case, the suspicious phone call averted disaster. In other cases, it ends up being teens playing with Nerf guns. Maybe don’t rag so hard on neighbors who call the cops on suspicious activity?
    The article says the suspicious activity in question was walking through yards instead of the street, taking extra time to open a door, and that there was trash and walmart bags inside.
    To be honest, none of this sounds weird to me. When I was a kid, I recall my peers walking through private property all the time, because kids are both kind of dumb and also used to playing in neighbors’ yards as well as their own. And fumbling with a lock to a place where you hoard your stuff isn’t exactly suspicious either.
    Obviously, I’m glad the police were notified, and the terrible violence has been averted. My point is only that unless you were also there in person, take things like “cops called on man with umbrella” with a grain of salt. Intuition in the moment counts for a lot more than the Monday-morning quarterbacking.

    • Nigil, Drew – to your point, I generally would not mind of the cops were called on my by an alert citizen IF the cops are professional and know the law. Things go sideways when cops lack professionalism, or are ignorant of the law (or simply do not care).

      I keep an eye on my neighborhood, and have no problem calling the cops because – fortunately – the cops around here are pretty professional.

    • There’s good cases, borderline cases, and stupid cases of people calling things in. I’d be happy if the stupid cases (nerf guns) alone ceased.

  20. Thank goodness there was a person who was alert and called the police. It sure does seem that a great tragedy was stopped because someone simply thought something was out of order and chose to make a call. But what would we be saying about the caller if there had been nothing going on? Earlier this week, many of the B&B turned on the caller in Wausau, WI because he or she called about an incident that might be dangerous. We have to admit that people have to use their best judgment, and there will be more times than not that nothing is amiss. Let’s not jump on those who call when nothing is wrong. Sometimes, those callers save lives.

  21. Nigil, while some com mentors seem to get worked up over the wrong details I think most of us criticize the overall response in those cases. I have not read the story in full but it sounds like the response was both reasonable and effective. Ie. the cops didn’t gear up and charge in like the A team and the entire district wasn’t locked down before any facts were known. Over all this incident was handled with less drama than the poptart gun most likely.

    • Agreed. Charging in guns blazing is almost never acceptable or a good idea and in many cases it’s not the fault of the caller but the police response that is ridiculous.

  22. So to clearify. The kid didn’t actually take a gun/weapon to school (or anywhere else). Didn’t assault, batter, or shoot/blowup anyone.

    • He also apparently didn’t have the sense to keep his mouth shut and not describe his sick plan in detail to the police… I reckon that’s the part that got him locked up, in addition to whatever illegal stuff he had in his “stockpile”.

  23. Maybe 2A advocates should not use arguments like “criminals are not stopped by gun laws” or “the only thing that stops bad guys is good guys.” It is lazy logic and in the end will not help the cause. By this reasoning we should not have any laws at all, and only need to depend on the common sense of decent folk to know what is right and wrong. But in my experience working with youth and young adults (especially young men), there is no such thing as “common sense,” only the illusion of it. Ask ten individuals where they draw the line and you get ten different answers, and each is surprised the other nine think differently, because he tacitly assumed everyone else had the same standards as himself. Ask him where he learned his supposedly universal standards and he can only point to what a couple best friends said, or what his parents believe, or what he saw on TV. Laws clarify what society expects, even if only “good guys” follow them.

    But for those of you who are Christian, read your Bible: There is not even such a thing as “good guys.” Each of us, left to our own devices, is capable of the most ruinous intentions, with only grace to restrain us. And among the worst attitudes condemned in the New Testament is the tendency to draw circles around our own behavior, rationalizing everything we do as defensible (e.g. “boys will be boys”) while being quick to point to others as wicked or perverse (note how even in prisons there is a hierarchy determining who is the “lowest of the low”). Liberals may try to erase the distinction between right and wrong, but conservatives do no better when they define “wrong” in such a way that conveniently puts themselves in the “right.” Governments are given the sword to punish wrongdoers (Romans 13:4), but as individuals we are not to judge, and as believers our response to seeing wrongdoers punished should be humility rather than smugness or schadenfreude.

    The intent of laws against minors having firearms is not limited to stopping people “bent on murder” who will resort to knives and pressure cookers if guns are not available. Young people in general act impulsively. That is why we have a drinking age, voting age, age of consent, etc. Of course it is not fair to the specific 20-year-old who can consume alcohol responsibly that his peers are not yet mature enough, but society has determined that to be a reasonable tradeoff. (When the FDA banned children’s cold medication because some parents could not follow the directions properly, it was not fair to the kids of those parents who could, but they reasoned it would lower the incidence of overdose and save many lives as a result. I did not like the FDA’s action, but only because I was frustrated when my children got sick and thought callously about the offending parents: “They can’t read? Then it’s their own fault if their children die. Why should my kids have to suffer to save them?”)

    I know of more than one shooting that happened because a young man suddenly felt the need to show another that “nobody messes with me.” Perhaps you will say that is bad parenting, that his dad should have taught him to settle disputes with fistfights instead of killing people. But in today’s world I am not convinced most parents have control over what their children learn and what values they internalize, and unless you can eradicate the human desire to get even with those who we perceive have hurt us, then I think it is safer for society to agree on the standard, “We expect students not to bring a gun to school,” rather than “We expect students to bring a gun to school but use it only for legitimate defense of self or others.”

    Perhaps you will say if everyone were armed then the would-be shooter would not dare to draw a gun rashly because he himself would get shot down, and if he does then it is his own fault. But knowing young people’s warped sense of propriety these days (I have had Sunday school students tell me, “If the shooter is your friend, of course you take his side and back him up”), I have no confidence that such a situation would not escalate into an even uglier incident. And while I agree that people should take responsibility for their own actions, one of our jobs as adults is to give youth the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in a “safe” environment, i.e. we should intervene before there are permanent consequences. So I feel it is more prudent to remove, as far as practicable, the presence of guns as a temptation for young people to overreact, rather than arming all of them and depending on the Darwinian admonishment, “If you do something that stupid, then you don’t deserve to live.”

  24. “I have redacted the name of the kid who planned the murder of his family, schoolmates and teachers . . .”

    Pshaw. His name is Dou Chebag.

  25. Wow. Sounds like he just wanted to get the high score; he who kills the most kids wins. No revenge motive necessary; it’s all a game for a bored brat.

    BTW, all ball bearings are metal.

  26. It sounds like this kid was a Psychopath. in the clinical sense. One of the Columbine shooters was the same.

  27. Oh, and as an addendum, I read a really good book on this called “Why Kids Kill,” by Peter Langman.

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