High school students in both Maryland and New Jersey have been accused of plotting Columbine-like attacks at their schools in separate incidents — and both involve teen girls. This is especially troubling as the April 20 anniversary of the school shooting approaches.
On March 23, the father of one suspect, Nichole Cevario, 18, told officials at Catoctin High School in Thurmont, Maryland, about a “potential threat of violence toward the school,” according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
When investigators searched Cevario’s home, they found a diary that indicated she planned to carry out a mass shooting at her high school less than two weeks later, on April 5.The journal had detailed plans including a timeline — and the fact that Nichole reportedly expected to be killed during the attack. Her diary mentioned the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, and the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newton, Connecticut, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins told ABC News.
The sheriff’s office said Cevario’s journal showed she had been plotting the alleged attack “for some time and had been compiling intelligence on behavior activities of the school, noting emergency procedures associated with drills conducted by school staff, and obtaining intelligence on the school resource deputy.”Cevario was taken to the hospital for evaluation. When she is released, she will be charged with possession of explosive material with intent to create a destructive device and possession of incendiary material with the intent to create a destructive device. If convicted, Cevario could be facing up to 25 years in prison.
Police have praised the teen’s parents’ “courageous” decision to come forward.
According to the FBI, female shooters are rare.
But in New Jersey, a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy have also been arrested this week and are facing terror charges after they allegedly discussed carrying out attacks at their school, Eastside High, and former elementary school, the New Roberto Clemente School.
The students allegedly talked about their histories of being bullied and harassed at their former school, according to the Passaic County prosecutor’s office.
“Even though no weapons were located, it appears that it was in the early stages of planning these attacks at Eastside High School and the New Roberto Clemente School,” Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale said in a statement.
Police say the teens were also fascinated with past school shootings, including Columbine.
The Paterson Police department, staff at both schools, and the students’ parents were notified. A spokeswoman for Eastside High School said in a statement that the school launched an investigation after its security staff was made aware of the potential threat.
The middle school’s principal, Hector Montes, conducted an emergency staff meeting on Tuesday. Montes said the suspects had posted statements on websites that led police to believe they wanted to re-enact school shootings like the ones at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School according to NorthJersey.com.
Both were hit with juvenile charges including third-degree terroristic threats and third-degree false public alarm.
An ABC News investigation found that in the last 17 years there have been at least 79 thwarted school massacre plots, and that in more than half of them, the would-be attackers mentioned Columbine.
Main photo: Property of Nichole Cevario, who was removed from class at Catoctin High School after allegations of her planned attack on the school were brought to the attention of authorities. [Frederick County Sheriff’s Office]