Police Concerned About Fla. Plot Copycats Amid Facebook Support

Fan pages crop up voicing support and condemnation for suspect, Jared Cano.

ByABC News
August 18, 2011, 7:39 PM

Aug. 19, 2011 — -- Since Jared Cano's Aug. 17 arrest for allegedly plotting to bomb Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla., a series of groups have cropped up on Facebook in support of the 17-year-old, including "Save Jared Cano" and "Support Jared Cano."

The largest by far is the "Free Jared Cano" group, with more than 700 "likes" on the evening of Aug. 18. Many of the comments on the page are critical of Cano's detailed plan to kill two school officials and 30 students with bombs on the first day of school next Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the Tampa Police Department is aware of the growing online community, and the dozens of commenters who support Cano -- and law enforcement is concerned it could indicate possible copycat offenders.

"My understanding is that folks that were responding on a Facebook page, supporting his position, they weren't seeing the gravity of his situation," said Maj. John Newman of the Tampa Police Department. "The investigation, with exception of arrest, is far from complete. We want to make sure he was operating by himself and there are no copycats out there. We're looking at every possible lead."

Jay Reeve, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University, said a Facebook page glamorizing or popularizing Cano's actions could increase the possibility of copycats, similar to the way Cano was attempting to replicate the efforts of Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

"I think there could be some serious consequences to that depiction of Jarod as someone who did something who garnered attention from peers," Reeve said. "You could predict that someone is going to emulate that."

Cano's History of Violence

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor told reporters Wednesday that investigators recovered bomb-making material from Cano's home, including fuses, timers, shrapnel, accelerant and plastic tubing. No firearms were found in his family's apartment, police said.

They also found a manifesto that detailed minute-by-minute plans for the purported attack, including specifications about where he apparently planned to place bomb in Freedom High School, from which he had been expelled in March 2010.