Causing a major disturbance on campus, two 16-year-old students were arrested Feb. 1 on suspicion of planning a school shooting at Troy High School.
According to the Fullerton Police Department press release, two students at a sports event Jan. 31 were overheard discussing a plot to “shoot up” the Troy campus. The students called their planned shooting “bigger than Columbine,” referring to the Columbine, Colo. shooting in 1999 that resulted in 13 deaths.
The reporting party sent a photo of the students to local police, and the following morning the students were detained for conspiracy to commit a felony. The students had conducted internet research on school shootings and firearms prior to the arrest, but a warranted search by the police did not uncover any weapons. Still, the possibility of a shooting rattled many students who were concerned for their safety.
Troy Principal Dr. William Mynster stated that although the shooting threat was distressing, he was confident that students would be safe on campus.
“I can speak for all of us when I say I was shocked, saddened, disappointed, and concerned for the safety of our students and staff when news of Troy students overheard planning a school shooting was initially reported to me,” Mynster said in the Feb. 3 edition of the Warrior Weekly newsletter. “I am very grateful for the parent and students that saw and heard something, and reported the incident to the police and school.”
The same day the suspects were detained, a fire drill in which students gathered in an open field went forward as scheduled. Upon hearing the news of the shooting threats later that afternoon, some students were unsettled by the possibility of being easy targets for a shooter and frustrated that school had remained in session.
“All was handled well except that administrators failed to let us know [as soon as possible] and many [students] didn’t find out until [they] were home,” one student pointed out. “They may have not told us to keep us calm, but it is insane to think that we were all out there in a fire drill. Is that not the perfect shooting setting?”
A petition on ipetition.com garnered over 1,500 signatures asking that school be cancelled Feb. 2 for student safety. Despite these efforts, school resumed the following day, along with the additional presence of multiple police officers and news vans. The threats were addressed by the principal in the morning announcements and some teachers made themselves available to concerned students in order to reassure students of their safety.
This threat was a reminder for students to recognize their role in preventing potential future attacks. One student declared that it is everyone’s responsibility to report suspicious activity, calling for vigilance in the community.
“The alert of the shooting threat should show us to be aware of our surroundings,” the student said. “If [you] hear anything that can harm yourself, your family, your peers, or anyone else, you should report it immediately. The lives of other people [are] in your hands.”