SOUTH PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Students returned with increased security to South Pasadena High School Thursday for the new school year, just days after a mass shooting plot was foiled by police.
The two teens at the center of the plot denied charges of making criminal threats Wednesday in Pasadena Juvenile Court.
The suspects, identified only as 16 and 17-year-old boys who were about to enter their senior year, were arrested Monday.
School officials received a tip from the public last week about their plans to allegedly kill three named staff members and numerous students.
“Considering I could have been in a class with one of these people not knowing what was ever going through their mind throughout the entire school year is a little nerve-racking,” a student said.
Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Lewis said the teens discussed details about the plan to carry out the attack and allegedly shared their intent with another teen.
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.
Police Chief Art Miller said the teens wanted to “kill as many people as possible.”
“We do not condone any type of behavior. My wife and I would like to apologize to the whole community,” the stepfather of the 17-year-old suspect said Wednesday. “Every student, every parent, every faculty.”
Counselors will be on hand Thursday for students as they return to class.
South Pasadena High officials also sent home letters to families, reassuring them of students’ safety and asking people to avoid speculation about the suspects and their intended victims.
A neighbor of one of the suspects said the teen was bullied.
“Were they harassed? Did they feel like outcasts? Did the school administrators and teachers not recognize that these students were in need?,” parent Katrina Campbell said.
The South Pasadena Superintendent could not comment on if bullying played a factor in the plot due to the ongoing investigation.
“I don’t know anything about the bullying part, but as typical in any of these cases, this is the very beginning of it,” South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller added.