A Tampa teenager has been arrested and charged with plotting to kill two school officials and 30 students with bombs on the first day of school scheduled for next week in what would have been the most serious school attack since the Columbine massacre.
Jared Cano, 17, wrote a manifesto that detailed his plans for his attack starting at 5 a.m. next Tuesday, Police Chief Jane Castor said at a news conference today. The manifesto allegedly included information about the layout of Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla., and where exactly Cano was planning to place bombs in the school of roughly 21,00 students.
Castor also said they recovered bomb making material from his home including fuses, timers, shrapnel, accelerant and plastic tubing. No firearms were found in his family's apartment, police said.
"The plot very serious. He could have done all the damage he intended to do," Castor said.
The arrest on Tuesday came just hours after someone alerted police about Cano's alleged plot, Castor said. After a 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. The tipster's identity has been kept confidential but that person was praised today as a "hero."
"It's someone who had information and they felt strongly enough to call the Tampa Police Department," Castor said.
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.
On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, wielding automatic weapons, slaughtered 12 students and one teacher. Another 24 were wounded in the 45 minute rampage.
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Cano is the latest student to express admiration for the Columbine killers. Seung-Hui Cho sent a tape praising Klebold and Harris before going on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead in 2007.
The teen's manifesto targeted two individuals "in the administration at Freedom High School," both of whom have been alerted that they were target, the chief said. Cano expressed feelings of "ill will" towards both of them in the manifesto.
He also targeted 30 students for death, the police said.
The manifesto detailed his minute-by-minute plan of attack, starting at 5 a.m. next Tuesday. It included the layout of Freedom High School and where exactly Cano was planning to place bombs in the school, Castor said.
She also said that the "materials found at [his] home were serious enough to do the job he wanted to do," and added that everything was purchased legally.
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, did not 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.
Cano has been arrested in the past, police said, and has an "extensive criminal record." His most recent arrest was for burglary. Tampa police confirmed that Cano had previously broken into a house and stolen a firearm. The victim, a convicted felon, did not press charges. Cano had also previously been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a taser, and the possession of marijuana.
Castor said that Canon was already a person of interest to them, in that he was part of their group of offenders that Tampa Police keeps an eye on.
In response to Cano's mental status, Castor only said, "we are not in the business of diagnosing the mental health of an individual."
But Cano's recent Facebook status messages may indicate emotional disturbance. "My life stays on repeat its gettin old :/" he posted on Monday at 12:11a.m.
Tampa Student Had Manifesto for Murder: Cops
Under his favorite quotations on Facebook, he listed, "lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten."
Cano also admitted to his use of marijuana on his Facebook profile, posting "i love me some weed haha" on Aug. 13 at 11:45 a.m.
But on Tuesday, Cano posted to his wall, "i jut did the dumbest thing ever!"
According to Christopher Farkas, Freedom High School principle 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.
In a press conference today, Farkas, who knew Cano, said, "there are threats that happen" involving the school, but that "95 percent of time, they're not real."
Farkas said school will open on Tuesday as scheduled, with increased police security on campus and counselors available to students if necessary. Electronic messages have also been sent out to parents of students informing them that the school is working with the Tampa Police Department to keep the school safe.