Middle schoolers accused of planning Columbine-inspired mass shooting

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 4:32 AM CDT
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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. (WBBH) - Two Florida teens were arrested on accusations of plotting a mass shooting inspired by Columbine at their middle school.

Philip Byrd, 13, and Connor Pruett, 14, will spend at least 21 days in juvenile detention after they were arrested Thursday for conspiracy to commit a mass shooting at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lee County, Florida.

Authorities say the teens plotted out the violence during classes, in the school cafeteria and on virtual Zoom meetings. They told fellow students that the Columbine shooting was their inspiration and were reportedly studying the 1999 attack.

“They were planning this. They might have been planning this all summer, just waiting for school to open. My kid could have been a child who got hurt or any kid,” said the mother of a student at the school.

Byrd and Pruett allegedly planned to obtain weapons on the black market and had a map marked with shooting locations and security camera locations. Evidence collected at the teens’ homes included ammo boxes, shotgun shells, a poster of bullets, guns and knives.

Students say the two tried to recruit others to join them, but all those asked declined.

Byrd and Pruett underwent mental evaluations before being taken to juvenile detention, where they will remain until their next court date. There is no word on whether they have attorneys or how they are pleading.

Investigators say they have responded to the teens’ homes nearly 80 times between the two of them.

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