The father of a boy whose school was the target of a thwarted mass casualty plot has written an emotional open letter to the suspect in the case.
A male teen, who has not been publicly identified, was taken into custody after Edmond, Oklahoma, police found explosives at the teen's home. Police were notified after friends of the former student received troubling texts about the boy's plans and alerted school officials on Friday.
It wasn't until Sunday that Charles Martin heard about the plot and that it involved Edmond North High School, where his 15-year-old son is a freshman.
Martin, who founded a small publishing company called Literati Press, wrote an open letter "To the Teen Who Planned to Kill My Son" and posted it to his company's website.
"I was fortunate enough because nothing happened, and that allowed me to be more forgiving," Martin told ABC News.
In the letter, Martin thanks the teen for texting his friends about his plan, which led to the plot being exposed.
"Maybe you are a bad person, but it seems you are just angry and desperate," Martin wrote. "That is understandable. High school is a tough place. It often made me angry and desperate too.
"But then it ended and I went to college. Life got better in small measures until I finally reached a place in my life where I became happy and fulfilled. As impossible as it may seem now, you have a chance at that too. As does my son and all the other teenagers who are still alive because you were caught," Martin wrote.
Martin said that his empathy comes from a place of understanding, noting that his son also dislikes parts of high school but he has been able to comfort him that he is not alone.
"Maybe there is nobody in this kid's life who is telling him that," Martin said in an interview with ABC News.
The letter's popularity has grown so much that the extra traffic has crashed company's site. Martin said he ended up having to post it on the Literati Press' Facebook and Twitter pages because a hacker installed malware on their site after it crashed and they have been unable to fix the server since.
For now, Martin is just enjoying a safe spring break with his sons, one who attends Edmund North High School and his younger son, 13.
"We just got finished playing a board game, we're about to Frisbee with our dog, eating tacos--everything you're supposed to do on spring break," Martin said of their vacation schedule.
Read the full letter here:
To The Teen Who Planned To Kill My Son: We found out Friday that you were planning on killing students at Edmond North. The details of your scheme are still not that clear, at least what's been made public, but it seems you were hoping for a high body count. My son is a freshman at Edmond North. He doesn't enjoy school either, but he is a bright young man with a beautiful smile and one of the sharpest comedic instincts I've ever seen. He tends to insulate himself from the world with his headphones and is obsessed with hip hop. I doubt you know each other since you are sixteen, so presumably a sophomore or maybe a junior. Odds are that you've never even crossed paths with my son. Perhaps he would have been safe had you carried out your plan.
But perhaps not.
It was the winter that made it so hard, wasn't it? That's when you sent the texts to your friends that led them to notify the authorities. It was those damn snow days. The winter always brings me down too, so it's not just you. We all get tremendously sad sometimes.
We spent those snow days playing board games and sledding down the hills of our neighborhood. You spent your time researching bombs, even starting to assemble one. I wonder what you used. You might have even been at the same hardware store when we got our sled. I wonder if you went sledding too. Maybe we saw you. Maybe I would know you by sight, but probably not.
I have no idea what you are thinking right now. You are being held in a treatment facility, which I think is wise. Charges will be filed, but I am not sure that jail is the right place for you. I want to believe that you texted your friends because you wanted to be caught. You wanted to be stopped. Your friends are heroes. Maybe you felt yourself getting out of control and tipped your hand in hopes someone would stop you, which also makes you a bit of a hero. Maybe. I can't say for sure since we've never spoken nor do I know anything of you aside from what can be found online. Maybe you are a bad person, but it seems you are just angry and desperate. That is understandable. High school is a tough place. It often made me angry and desperate too.
But then it ended and I went to college. Life got better in small measures until I finally reached a place in my life where I became happy and fulfilled. As impossible as it may seem now, you have a chance at that too. As does my son and all the other teenagers who are still alive because you were caught.
Listen to the therapists at the treatment facility. Whatever comes of this situation, please hold onto the hope that you could one day put the darkness behind you. Perhaps, years into the future, you will reach out to a teenager that feels the way you once did and you can help him avoid making horrible decisions with his life. Nothing is guaranteed to make us feel better, but helping other people comes pretty damn close.
Your path forward is going to be complicated and hard, but remember that you are not a killer. You were on a path to become a killer, but your own actions led to my son being alive today. Again, I have no idea if he would have even been in the same part of the building where you executed your plan. Edmond North is a massive complex. But he could have been. The point is irrelevant because you did not have a chance to kill him.
Instead of mourning, my son, his brother, and I are going to have a long, happy spring break. We are going to go climbing, play frisbee, go on a road trip, play board games and video games, discuss music production, and laugh about all the stupid things we always say to each other. He is a wonderful kid. I don't know you, but I am certain that there is a part of you that is wonderful too. Not executing your plan allows me the freedom to wish the best for you. Had you killed someone, this letter would be much different. I may never meet you, but if I do, I hope that I am strong enough to thank you.
And if I meet your friends, I will be tempted to hug them, but probably won't because that would make them uncomfortable just as hugging made me uncomfortable when I was a teenager.
I will spend a lot of time discussing this with my boys just as I am sure there mother has. I need to find Rudderless, a movie made in Oklahoma about a school shooting. It is a powerful film, but my boys haven't seen it yet. We will then discuss the film. Maybe you should watch it too. It will help you imagine what the lives of your family would be like if you had successfully carried out the attack. Maybe not. Talk to your counselors. Trust them. They know more than I do.
But finally and most importantly, thank you. You reached out to your friends and they made the brave decision to ask for help. A tragedy was averted and, I hope, your life will now start the long journey of getting back to better.