The Sumter County and Lake County sheriff’s offices arrested two teenagers after middle school officials and law enforcement stopped a plot of a mass shooting Thursday.
Rumors had been circulating around students of The Villages Charter Middle School as late as Tuesday that the 13-year-old male student had planned a mass shooting Friday, according to the sheriff’s office press release. Some of the students had been warned not to come to school.
On Wednesday, officials spoke to the 13-year-old student accused of planning the attack before he arrived at school. According to the sheriff’s office, he had referenced to a Columbine-like mass shooting in 1999, where 15 people died, including the two teen shooters.
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While speaking to the student, officials learned of another student who was involved: a 14-year-old male student. He had told officials the pair was planning a mass shooting and even shared a signal they would use to open fire, according to the sheriff’s office.
The 13-year-old was arrested Thursday by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at his Fruitland Park home, and the 14-year-old was arrested by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at his Wildwood home.
The students face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and had been placed in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the release.
Deputies have been posted at the school Friday as a precaution, but no other arrests were anticipated.
“The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office is grateful for those students brave enough to s peak out about the plot,” the release read. “Their heroic actions may have prevented a deadly tragedy and loss of precious lives.”