10 safety reminders for handling school and student-related calls
School Violence: The psychology of mass murder and what to do about it
By MaryClaire Dale
PHILADELPHIA — A 15-year-old boy stole his father's guns to use in a suicidal attack against enemies at his suburban Philadelphia high school but was thwarted when a friend threw the weapons in a river, authorities said.
The alleged plot was uncovered after the father reported the three weapons missing, prompting a police investigation that led to an attempted murder charge filed Tuesday against his son.
The Pottstown High School freshman was being held in a secure facility, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman told The Associated Press. He does not yet have a lawyer, and no court dates are scheduled, she said.
Authorities say he took the a revolver, two semiautomatic pistols and ammunition from his father's basement gun locker in early November. He gave them to a friend, hoping the friend would take them to school when directed, authorities said.
Instead, the friend told his stepmother about the weapons, and she drove the boy to a river so he could get rid of them, investigators said. Police dive teams recovered the handguns.
Ferman described the suspect as a loner with a history of depression and mental-health problems. While previously a good student, he was repeating his freshman year, she said.
The teen initially planned to carry out the attack this year but delayed it until next year because school officials, aware of the stolen gun report, had stepped up security. The teen told investigators he was going to shoot people he did not like, then himself, authorities said.
The charge is attempted murder because the teen took "substantial steps" -- stealing the guns and giving them to the friend -- to carry out the crime, Ferman said.
"He had gotten so far along in that plan that he had the immediate capacity to commit the crime," she said.
The Pottstown School District, about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, has about 3,200 students.
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The same district attorney's office last year accused a 14-year-old of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting an assault on a high school. The teen, who had been bullied and pulled out of public school in the seventh grade, admitted to three felonies -- criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime -- and is now in a juvenile center.