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With the Oregon shooting still fresh, there’s always a danger of similar “copycat” events. Which means that law enforcement are right to be on the alert for similar individuals as they try to prevent another shooting from happening. But four high school students in California are now under arrest after allegedly planning to shoot up their school, despite a distinct lack of weaponry of any sort . . .

From the NY Times:

Four Northern California high school students have been arrested in connection with what law enforcement officials called a highly detailed plan to shoot and kill fellow students and teachers, just days after a mass shooting on a community college campus in rural Oregon.

[…]

Investigators have found no clear motive for the planned attack, Sheriff Mele said, but he said that “the suspects’ plans were very detailed in nature and included names of would-be victims, locations and methods in which the plan was to be carried out.” The students planned to open fire during an event at school, he said, and “were in the process of trying to obtain these weapons.”

[…]

Nevertheless, Sheriff Mele said the plot had been “pretty doggone close” to fruition. The investigation has so far been based on interviews with the suspects, during which they gave a detailed confession, Sheriff Mele said. The police executed two search warrants and seized the suspects’ electronic devices, he said, but have not yet analyzed their contents.

There’s no denying that plots like these are potentially dangerous and do in fact require investigation. But I would like to take a moment to remind people that thought crime is not actual crime and arresting people without any evidence isn’t a direction we want to be heading.

There’s a good reason why I’m urging caution when most of you would be reaching for your pitchforks and torches. When I was in middle school (in downstate New York), one of my classmates once informed the principal that they believed I was about to shoot up our school. The reason? They overheard me talking to one of my friends about a trip to the shooting range with the local Boy Scout troop.

I was immediately pulled from class and spent a good portion of the rest of the day trying to explain what happened to a skeptical school staff who were not cut from the gun-loving cloth.

California isn’t the most gun-friendly local in the country, and while I’d like to believe the local police department did their job in this case and gathered evidence before creating an arrest record for these four individuals, my own personal experience makes me extremely cautious in these situations. Especially when the news reports specifically mention that there were no weapons recovered and the supposed attackers were still figuring that part out, can you really say they were “pretty doggone close” to carrying something out? That’s like saying Rick Perry’s presidential nomination is “pretty doggone close” to becoming a reality.

I’m glad to hear that students are speaking up and informing the school staff of potential threats, but at the same time I know where that rabbit hole can lead. Just a little bit of caution is probably a good idea to make sure that we don’t move even further down the road to a Minority Report esque future.

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57 Responses to Four California Students Arrested for Discussing School Shooting

  1. If they just put their plans and ideas into a rap song nobody would care. Put it on paper with letters cut out of magazines and now you’re in a pre-crime holding cell

    😛

    • Obama once said (something like) that the world should not belong to those that insult the prophet. That means jihad to most everyone listening. People are literally being crucified for the same mindset. But sure lock up the CA juveniles.

      • They don’t publish plans though. They just end up behind you on the street and sever your head from your neck with a sharp (or not so sharp) knife. No announcement, no publications, no warning. They mean business, is it weird the media is afraid of them? It almost makes one wonder if 2 or 3 patriots could scare the media off forever…

        Dangerous thoughts. But Lexington was pretty radical too.

        • Actually the ROI at Lexington were quite restrained/conservative.. May not fire unless fired up one. And the Colonials followed the ROI. And again at Concord.

        • ROI – ? Army? “Rules of Interaction?”

          [NAVY uses ROEs “Rules of Engagement” and EOF “Escalation of Force”]

          Limitations on actions by the Colonials at Lex/Con were an attempt to 1) Impose order (rightful discipline); 2) Impose order of battle (allow for peaceable withdrawal of the enemy in response to counter-threat [avoid unnecessary conflict if the goal was achieved at the outset, not yet deemed unlikely]); 3) Conservation of resources.

  2. I’m pretty a list of people who they were going to kill and methods to execute that plan, counts as more than a thought crime.

    • That really depends. Did the plans say something like “plant pipe bombs here and here, pull fire alarm, chain doors shut, etc.” or did they sound more like “Unleash velociraptors into cafeteria, use bulldozer on Mrs. Schneider’s class, drive flaming acid truck through principle’s office.”? One is obviously fictitious and one is not, but they are both mass murder plots.

      • Even if it wasn’t a fictional plot, no real crime was committed without the means and intent to carry it out. If we could arrest people for wanting and fanaticizing about killing people, half the DNC would still be in the slammer from the Bush presidency.

        • Yes, if wishing death upon people and talking about how it should be done was a crime, most of the anti-gun crowd would be locked up. I’ve never seen more “NRA members should be rounded up and shot” type of actual calling for the murder of people comments than on the FB pages of gun control groups, in the comments sections on gun-related articles of liberal websites, etc etc…

        • If they were really trying to obtain guns specifically as part of their plan, that would definitely count as “conspiracy to …”.

      • You’re making a joke, but no shit, when I was in high school some 15 years ago, someone said something VERY similar to what you suggested. I think their version was mutant spiders in the ventilation, or something.

        Place damned near went on lockdown, he was forced into pysch evaluations, etc. This is something that’s been happening for a long time. Only now is it making the news.

  3. The story about you being interrogated for suspicion of plotting mass murder for mentioning in a private conversation with a friend that you went to a shooting range with the Boy Scouts could be elaborated into a good article by itself.

    • I second the motion.
      My first contact with “gun control” was having some woman “drop a dime” on me and another 10-year-old harmlessly shooting slingshots at tin cans bobbing on a lake.

  4. I agree, we don’t know the whole story, but it would not surprise me to see party officials in California over react taking it to a new level. A popular game at high schools and colleges today is a game called Assassin. How soon before hundreds of these students are locked away for simply acting like teenagers.

    • That game was around at least as far back as the early ’80s. At my HS we used rubber dart guns and squirt guns. It was a not very practical game though.

  5. When I saw the picture of the Kalifornia flag, I chuckled and thought why don’t they put our beloved senator (DF)up there to replace the bruin. And of course she should be in her birthday suit, and on all fours, same as da bear!

    • Fab! My first thought was “Feinstein? Bear? What’s the diff?”

      Yeah, I’m not taking this “thought crime” with the kids very seriously. I could prove to be wrong.

    • An insult to all California bears. They are much better looking than the lowest form of life. That being Democrat politician.

      • Not really. The bear on the flag is a California grizzly, which it so happens is extinct. Unlike DiFi, sad to say.

  6. There isnt enough info out to say how advanced their plans were so I would caution super imposing bias into the vacuum.

    As for them not having weapons YET. To the best of my knowledge California LE doesn’t buy in to the “fast and furious” style of crime intervention (ie letting the bad guys get guns and seeing what they do)….. Unless you’re Leland Yee and you sell the kids the guns and then screem for more gun control.

    • No means, no crime. You can fantasize about nuking DC all you want. It’s all fun and games until you’re on you’re ready to get your hands on a nuke.

        • I assume that you are going to use a 3-D printer to make the rocket that will lift your other 3-D printer and bazillion cartridges into orbit, correct?

          More important question: which brand of 3-D printer can we use to make the rocket fuel as well as the plutonium for the nuke? (roll eyes)

        • Hey Blaque, I’m willing to donate the first 100 feet of extension cord to run your orbital printer.

  7. Even in a gun free utopia like CA firearms are readily available. Sorta like the UK. As for Nick getting questioned it was an obvious overreach. A swatting if you will.

    But these kids were putting plans and names on paper. Something like that has to be checked on.
    especially if their parents were left leaning progs.

    • Robert Farago just submitted a piece on gun sales (using the 2013 stats). During that period over 10m guns were produced in the US. Almost 10% of those guns were purchased by Californians…. Try though they might, they aren’t taking our guns…. just our rights, one nibble at a time. Its sad to read the articles (sara tipton et al) about gun rights advocates leaving the state. There are so many gun owners here…. But money talks in this state and the richest people (most influential) are the gun grabbers.

      • I moved to the East Bay a few years ago and almost everyone i meet and end up speaking to about guns is pro 2A. Most of the LEOs i meet through my kids school or other activities are pro 2A. Its weird that so many areas just 30 miles outside of SF are completely different but we cant seem to rally and change things on a local level. I think its something like 1/3 the population here are gun owners thats a lot of people. There has to be a way to change things.

        • This is the whole fallacy of state rights. If 51% of the people who vote in a given state say your civil rights are null and void, then they are null and void.

          Our rights are individual rights. Regardless of zip code and the local voters.

  8. I don’t agree with arresting these kids but a lot of evil plans start with conspiracy.”Hey wouldn’t it be fun to go to Syria?” I’m just glad my kids are out of high school…did the cops go too far? Beats me. I know it wouldn’t occur to me to EVER shoot up a school(never been bullied).

    • Consider yourself lucky. The reality is that you need to prove planning, intent, and means. They should have sown up all three before an arrest was made.

  9. …OR all the popular asshole kids just figured out how to get rid of the socially inept for a day or two, or to put a rival through hell – just make shit up and tell the school administration that you heard them talking about shooting up the school. So, yeah, reason #259,233 to homeschool.

  10. Gee I wasn’t popular in highschool. But I wasn’t bullied because I competed in weightlifting since age 15. WE also had race riots 3 out of 4 years and I didn’t join in. I agree about home schooling but you come across as somewhat nuts…get over it. NO luck involved either you two…

  11. The same thing happened to me in a CA public school as well. You talk about hunting and fishing, and suddenly the school thinks you are a terrorist. Public schools these days are worse than the TSA in regards to this kind of paranoia.

  12. They arrest Isis terrorists who are planning to commit crimes and actually never bring them to fruition. I don’t think many people have a problem with that. With everything going on in our society right now, if these kids were stupid enough to make detailed plans about their killing spree, then confess that were going to go through with them, maybe they do belong incarcerated.

    • Perhaps for these kids a mental health evaluation would be more suited.

      As for the terrorists, they have means and intent when arrested. You can’t go out and arrest someone for planning a terrorist attack if they lack the means to actually go through with the plan. Doing so gets us into thought crime.

  13. There will need to be absolute proof they were planning an attack. I do agree, hysteria especially combined with fear only leads to greater hysteria and trouble. It’s good to be aware, but it can end up like a swatting incident.

  14. Good article Nick- I am in agreement- lets wait until the facts come out. Its california, number one, and its the press- number two- thats a combination for weidness and near guaranteed fail on the first facts.

    No sense getting bent until we know.

  15. INAL, but I was a cop. As I recall, criminal conspiracy involves three elements –

    1. Two or more people
    2. Plan a criminal act
    3. And commit an act in furtherance thereof

    So if recollection serves, elaborate plans would not be criminal. But, if they begin to pursue acquiring guns, even asking where they could be had – arrestable offense.

    On the other hand, haven’t we all noticed that generally SOMEBODY had reason to suspect these mass shooters before the event? If circumstances are as described, another mass shooting may have been prevnted. The comments I’ve read seem largely cavalier towards that possibility.

    • Mostly because mass shootings are far rarer than absurd government overreach and police paranoia. Given the probabilities, it is far more likely that this is just some cops harassing some kids whose lives already suck.

    • When asked about a spree shooter, neighbors and coworkers rarely seem completely shocked it happened. It’s usually like oh THAT guy? Something always seemed off about him, he seemed like a loner, etc etc.

      Immediate family is always oh no I never saw this coming, my perfect angel isn’t even capable of such an act. Until they are.

      I’m all for speaking up if you think someone you know is about to commit a deadly act of violence. The facts are thin in this case; a detailed plan of targets and locations would at least warrant a conversation with these students.

    • That’s because this has become largely a cop bashing site with a good gun/equipment review thrown in now and then to make it interesting.

    • Been extra busy this week, so I’m late to the party. I was going to make substantially the same points you’ve made here, particularly around actions in furtherance of the conspiracy and people’s cavalier attitude.

      Creative writing, graphic drawings, finger guns and pop tart pistols are all out there. They elicit worried expressions from some and rolled eyes from others, but they never hurt anyone. Detailed plans including kill lists, sequence of operations and active attempts to procure weaponry, howeve, are more serious? That’s different and could cross into criminality.

      I don’t know the totality of the evidence in this case, so it could still be a matter of over reach by eager LEOs. With these kids singing like canaries, though, they’re apt to talk themselves into convictions, regardless of the original circumstances.

      What’s clear is that had they spent their time surfing, skating, studying and chasing girls like everyone else, instead of this contemplation of mass violence nonsense, then they wouldn’t be in this predicament.

  16. “the suspects’ plans were very detailed in nature and included names of would-be victims, locations and methods in which the plan was to be carried out.” The students planned to open fire during an event at school, he said, and “were in the process of trying to obtain these weapons.”

    If true, that’s a conspiracy, not a benign discussion of shooting.

  17. When I was in high-school somebody detonated a smoke grenade in a water fountain, smoking out the entire school and lighting a wall on fire. They cleared the entire school, sent everyone home and called the fire department, cops, etc…. The following school day me and my 3 closest friends, who were “known to be into all that military stuff”, were publicly summoned to the principle’s office and interrogated by school officials and a cop.

    It turned out that is was the sheriff’s son, who had stolen the smoke grenade from his father and deliberately set it off in the school. But hey, nothin’ like a good ol’ fashioned witch-hunt.

    • How is that a witch hunt? Witches don’t exist, yet someone really did detonate a smoke bomb on campus.

      In a witch hunt, innocent people are punished for a crime they didn’t commit and which was never even committed. Well, we’ve already established this smoke bomb crime was comitted. I didn’t read of any punishment levied against you and your crew, either. Sooo….

      What you described is an investigation. For myriad reasons, including timeliness of apprension and economy of resources, you start the investigation with the most likely suspects. You follow the facts wherever they lead. Sounds like you guys fit the profile, so you got hauled in, but the facts didn’t support a claim against you, so they moved on.

      Embarrassing, frightening, and disturbing, sure, but I’m not seing a witch hunt.

  18. The police executed two search warrants and seized the suspects’ electronic devices, he said, but have not yet analyzed their contents. So where did they get all this detailed information to shoot up the school? From their gopher hole?

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