A Florida 17-year-old charged with plotting to kill school officials and students with bombs was "just venting anger" and would never have gone through with the attack, a friend of his claims.
Jared Cano wrote a manifesto that detailed his plans for an attack starting at 5 a.m. next Tuesday, the first day of classes at Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla., the school Cano was expelled from in March 2010. The unnamed friend was at the home of Cano when he was arrested on Tuesday.
"He wouldn't go and do something like that. He'd say he's going to in the heat of the moment but that's his way of venting, I guess," Cano's friend told ABC Action News in Tampa. "I think he was just venting anger on a piece of paper."
The two friends would often play video games at the home where Cano lives with his mother, and were planning to do just that on Tuesday when police arrived at the home to arrest t he teenager. The friend said that he initially thought the arrest may have to do with marijuana charges, a drug Cano publicly admits to admire on his Facebook page; he has also been arrested for possession of marijuana in the past.
Cano has an "extensive criminal record," according to police, who confirmed that he had broken into a house and stolen a firearm. The victim of that theft, a convicted felon, did not press charges. Cano had also been charged with the possession of marijuana, carrying a concealed weapon and a taser.
Police said on Wednesday they recovered bomb making material from the home including fuses, timers, shrapnel, accelerant and plastic tubing -- though no firearms were found.
Cano's friend says that he does believe that his friend could have written a manifesto detailing such a plan to kill dozens at his former school, but it would only be a way for Cano to vent his frustration and anger.
"He doesn't know how to vent," the friend told ABC Action News. "I told him, 'Dude, go in your room, scream in your pillow or something.'"
According to Christopher Farkas, Freedom High School principal for the past three years, Cano was suspended from that school in March 2010 for an off-campus incident. Police confirmed that he was expelled from school for his previous burglary.
Police said they have no reason to believe that anyone else was involved in the bomb plot. They reported that the family had been cooperative. Castor said that Cano's mother, who he lives with, didn't know that her son had materials to build a bomb in his room.
Cano has been charged with threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device. He also faces charges for possession of bomb-making materials, cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
"The number of casualties they could have caused, the bomb team described it as serious injury including death," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said. "He had the ability to do some serious harm at Freedom High School on the first day of school … He had a fuel source, fuel sources; he had shrapnel; he had tubing to make the pipe bombs and he also had fusing and timing devices."
Police said that Cano specified in his manifesto his goal of surpassing the number of students who were killed and injured during the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Cano's former girlfriend Nicolette French told ABC News that she remembers Cano recently referencing Columbine. Now she wishes that he had been more direct when talking about it.
"I would have helped him get through it instead of him sitting there and actually wanting to harm other people and harm himself," French said.
The arrest on Tuesday came just hours after an anonymous tipster alerted police about Cano's alleged plot. After the tip came into Tampa Police Department's call center that Cano was plotting to bomb the school, detectives immediately called a bomb squad to his apartment.
Principal Farkas said in a press conference that he did know Cano, and that "there are threats that happen" involving the school, but that "95 percent of time, they're not real." He admitted to not realizing that Cano posed any real threat.
"Being in this business long enough, it's hard to say that you don't … you can almost expect anything," he said. "It's hard to have surprises nowadays. But the reality is ... No I didn't pick that kid up."