Police: Student tried to recruit for attack

March 11, 2009 8:06:30 PM PDT
Investigators believe this plot was going to be perpetrated Tuesday, even though they didn't find out about it until the same day. It was one of the boys allegedly being recruited who blew the whistle.The eighth grade suspect allegedly tried to recruit fellow students at St. Andrew School in Drexel Hill to take part in his plot.

Upper Darby Superintendent Michael Chitwood explains, "They were going to force a lockdown of the school and shoot anybody who tried to run."

The school officials already knew about the plan on Tuesday after another St. Andrew student told a mental health professional about the suspect's plot.

The 13-year-old was immediately pulled from class by school officials. When police arrived they looked through his backpack where they found two pellet guns, one of which appears as particularly realistic.

"Even though they were pellet guns, they looked real," said Msr. Alban Grouse of St. Andrew Church. "The tragedy would have been if he would have exposed it and was shot by a policeman."

The suspect is being held at the juvenile detention center in Lima and is being charged with making terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person.

Authorities added vandalism and burglary charges Wednesday. Chitwood explained why: "Over the weekend the same individual had broken into Holy Child Academy, which is located also in Drexel Hill... and stole approximately $370 from a classroom."

There's no word on if the boys who were being recruited were in any way actually involved in the plot, or if they will be charged. They were interviewed by investigators.

Investigators had originally gotten word that four real guns were to be used in the plot, but so far only the two unloaded pellet guns found in the student's backpack have been confiscated.

On Wednesday night, worried parents gathered at St. Andrew's looking for answers.

Some parents were alarmed that they were kept in the dark.

"My only concern is why we had to find out about it in the paper and on the news, I thought we should have been informed a little quicker than that and a more personal note to the parents, especially eighth grade parents," parent Lisa McGinis said. Most parents had praise for principal Helen McLean. Police say the school did all of the right things when they learned of the threat.

Parents flocked to the meeting looking for reassurance that the threat is over.

Police say the 13-year-old suspect has had mental heath issues in the past. Parents who know him were suprised by the arrest.

"I was surprised that it happened, but I think they handled it great; I think Helen did a great job of protecting our children; I feel very safe having my children here," parent Joanne Curry said.

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