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.