Florida teens accused of plotting ‘another Columbine’ held in juvie

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Florida teens accused of plotting 'another Columbine' held in juvie

A pair of Florida middle-schoolers accused of plotting “another Columbine” were ordered held at a juvenile facility Sunday — as one of their moms claimed her son is “just a little boy” who wasn’t serious about the alleged attack.

Connor Pruett, 13, and Phillip Byrd, 14, will be held at a juvenile detention center for at least 21 days after they allegedly planned a mass shooting at Hans Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, WINK News reported.

The teens were also ordered to stay away from the school and its staff, the outlet said.

But one of their mothers said authorities are overreacting and claimed her son is innocent.

“He’s just a little boy,” Byrd’s mom, Carrie Tuller, told WINK. “He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.”

But authorities took it seriously enough to bust both teens after a teacher got a tip that one of them was carrying a gun in his backpack.

According Lee County Sheriff Carmine Mareno, the teens were researching the Columbine shooting as well as how to make pipe bombs.
According to Lee County Sheriff Carmine Mareno, the teens were researching the Columbine shooting as well as how to make pipe bombs.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office
The mother of one of the boys maintains his innocence despite the evidence collected against them.
The mother of one of the boys maintains his innocence despite the evidence collected against them.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office

“This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno has said. “We were one second away from another Columbine.”

The sheriff said the teens had been researching details of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado that killed 12 — and tips on how to make a pipe bomb.

The 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead and 17 others wounded.

Police acted immediately after they received a tip from a teacher saying one of the boys had a gun in their backpack.
Police acted immediately after they received a tip from a teacher saying one of the boys had a gun in their backpack.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office

In the Lehigh Acres case, both teens are charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting and are due back in court Sept. 27.

Marceno said last week that cops didn’t find a gun but one of the teens had a map of the school with the location of all the security cameras in the building marked.

He said the teen suspects were “well-known” to the sheriff’s office after multiple calls for disturbances at their homes.

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