PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Police Tuesday said two teen boys were “willing to die” in their foiled plot to kill staff and students at South Pasadena High School.
The 16 and 17-year-old suspects, who were about to enter their senior year, were arrested Monday on charges of conspiracy and criminal threats, South Pasadena police said during a morning news conference.
Board of Education Superintendent Geoff Yantz said the administration was informed by a tip from the public of a “credible threat of potential school violence” last Thursday and contacted police immediately.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports detectives placed the boys under surveillance where they gathered information from social media about the foiled attack.
Police would not elaborate on the plans or what form they took, but said they wanted to kill three specific” staff members and numerous unnamed students.
“They were very viable in what they were plotting,” Chief Art Miller said. “They just wanted to kill as many people as possible.”
Authorities found evidence that the boys were researching bullet-proof vests, rifles, submachine guns, bombs and other explosives, especially propane, but had not acquired any weapons yet, police said.
Search warrants were served at the teens’ homes Monday afternoon where detectives seized computers and placed the boys under arrest.
No evidence was found indicating a date for the planned attack and the boys were “at the very beginning” of planning, Miller said.
Police stated that during interviews, the boys said they were “willing to die for their plan. It wasn’t as much of a cause as it was a plan.”
Authorities would not discuss a motive.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office will get the case Tuesday and will have the option to file additional charges.
The FBI was aiding South Pasadena police in their forensic investigation of the suspects’ computers.
Staff members had no comment to reporters, but local parent Dr. Brad Hudson had praise for school administrators who tipped off police to the threat.
“I’m just very fortunate to say that our school district seems to have been aware of what these young people were up to. I don’t know how they knew that,” said Hudson. ”
Students at South Pasadena High School will return to classes Thursday with increased security for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
The arrests came days after two Santa Clarita Valley boys were arrested on suspicion of posting online threats to shoot students at local schools, though sheriff’s officials acknowledged that those threats were intended as pranks.
Neighbors of one of the suspects told CBS2 Tuesday night that they don’t think he would have gone through with a shooting at his school.
“We don’t believe for one second he was going to carry out what the police are saying,” one neighbor said. “We believe he was venting because he’s been picked on by kids at SPHS.”
She was not the only neighbor to touch on the fact that the suspect had been frequently bullied.
“Sometimes you would see him running away, and they would run after him, and they would hit him on the way,” another neighbor said.
Students, returning for the 2014-15 school year, say they are in shock by the reports.
“I would smile at him, and say ‘hey’, and he would smile back,” student Stone Franco said. “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him. I didn’t think it would come to this.”