— -- Police in Southern California have detained two 16-year-old high school students for allegedly planning a mass school shooting they bragged would be "bigger than Columbine," police said Wednesday.
The Fullerton Police Department in Orange County, located south of Los Angeles County, said in a statement that the two students "have been detained for making criminal threats and conspiracy to commit a felony." They have been released to the custody of Orange County Juvenile Hall. Their names have been withheld as California law prevents law enforcement from releasing the identities of juvenile suspects.
Officials learned of the alleged plot on Wednesday after a Fullerton Police Department Resource Office assigned to Troy High School "received information regarding a possible 'school shooting' plot."
The statement adds, "the School Resource Officer was told that the previous evening, two students were attending a Troy High School athletic event and during the event, the reporting party overheard the two students discussing their plans to 'shoot up' the school in a manner 'bigger than Columbine.'"
The two students were also overheard discussing the types of firearms they would use, and the effectiveness of various firearms.
The individual who overheard the two students' conversation took a photo of them, which allowed them to be identified to police.
"The reporting party in this incident may have saved countless lives, and untold heartache for an unknown number of families, simply by reporting to police what was overheard," police said in the statement.
After obtaining the photos of the students and identifying them, officers contacted the students at school, where an "initial investigation indicates the students did make statements similar to the statements reported to police," the statement continued.
After obtaining search warrants for "multiple locations in Anaheim," police say they found evidence that the students had conducted online research of mass shootings.
The evidence indicated that the students were researching "weaponry and prior school shootings (including Columbine) as recently as yesterday, in preparation for their plot," according to police. They said the investigation is ongoing.
The Fullerton School District said in a statement today that it was "aware of the reported threat at Troy High School" and has been in communication with police.
The district added that there were no known threats to any other FSD schools and all the district's campuses were open today.