Samaritan Helps Foil Columbine-Style Shooting

Two teens in custody after journal entry detailed shootings, bombings.

ByDAVID SCHOETZ

July 13, 2007— -- A full-scale, Columbine-style school massacre may have been averted today when police arrested two Long Island teenagers on suspicion that they planned to unleash gunfire and detonate explosions inside a local high school.

The arrests were made after a mystery Samaritan gave law enforcement officials a handwritten journal that detailed plans to attack Long Island's Connetquot High School in the Suffolk County town of Bohemia.

The journal was found in a McDonald's parking lot a week ago and named specific students as targets.

"I will start a chain of terrorism in the world," the journal read, according to Richard Dormer, the Suffolk County police commissioner, who shared disturbing excerpts at an afternoon press conference.

"Take everyone down, turn the guns on the cop, take out myself," Dormer read. "Perfecto."

An unidentified woman found the spiral notebook and turned it in to high school officials, who delivered it to authorities.

Police said one of the alleged conspirators, a 15-year-old male Connetquot student, admitted to Suffolk County officials that he wrote the journal. The student was already serving a long-term suspension because of threatening behavior.

The 15-year-old, whose identity was withheld because he is a minor, and alleged accomplice Michael McDonough, 17, are in custody on charges of conspiring to injure students and staff at the high school.

McDonough attended a different school but worked with the 15-year-old at the Long Island McDonald's location where the journal was discovered, authorities said.

Using a search warrant, police seized the 15-year-old's computer and discovered that he had made numerous attempts and inquiries online about buying weapons -- including an Uzi automatic rifle and an AK-47 assault rifle. Authorities said he had also attempted to purchase five pounds of black powder explosives.

Police said they discovered at least one videotape that featured a close-up of the 15-year-old as he explained what he wanted to do at the school. While he was not carrying any weapon in the footage, Dormer said he was very explicit about the bloodshed he wanted to spark.

"He felt that everyone was against him, the world was against him and he was very upset with life in general and the world in general," Dormer said.

The Suffolk police commissioner compared the plot and videotape footage to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in which students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded dozens more before killing themselves.

The critical differences, Dormer said, were the response by the unidentified woman who delivered the notebook to the school, the prompt reaction by school officials and the follow-up by police.

"In Columbine, this didn't happen when they had information on troubled students," Dormer said.

The video was reminiscent of April's massacre at Virginia Tech, in which 32 people were killed. After the Virginia Tech killings, gunman Seung-Hui Cho's videotaped missives captured international attention. A panel continues to investigate why no one responded to what in retrospect were myriad warning signs about the Cho's behavior.

Police will continue to investigate the incident to determine whether anyone else was involved in the plot and whether the alleged conspirators succeeded in obtaining any weapons or explosives online. They said they do not believe that the parents of the 15-year-old were aware of their son's plot but believe the threat was very legitimate.

"'I want to leave a mark on the world,'" Dormer read from the journal. "Who knows where it would have ended up?"

About 2,000 students attend Connetquot High School, located about 50 miles from New York City, according to the school's Web site.

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