Another tragedy on the level of Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. may have been averted thanks to the intervention of a concerned grandmother.
Joshua Alexander O’Connor, an 18-year-old Everett, Wash. high school student, was arrested Wednesday after his grandmother showed police his journal, which extensively detailed a murder plot with firearms and explosives, NBC News reports.
The young man’s grandmother, Catherine Katsel-O’Connor, called 911 on Tuesday after reading her grandson’s journal the night before. She also discovered a semi-automatic rifle hidden in his guitar case.
Police reviewed the journal on Wednesday, discovering meticulous preparation for the alleged shooting spree.
“I’m preparing myself for the school shooting,” the young O’Conner wrote, according to court documents. “I can’t wait. My aim has gotten much more accurate … I can’t wait to walk into that class and blow all those f—ers away.”
In another passage, he described his intention of maximizing deaths.
“I’ve been thinking alot [sic]. I need to make this shooting/bombing at Kamiak infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I need to make this count.”
The writing referred to Kamiak High School, O’Conner’s original target. However, he later wrote in his journal that a coin toss prompted him to instead plan to attack his own school–ACES Alternative High School.
“I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings),” the teenager added. “I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”
Court documents said the high schooler obtained defused grenades, which he planned to make live with “black powder.” In his journal, he discussed making pressure cooker bombs and planned where he would place them in the school.
After reviewing the journal and weapons, police contacted the school, which pulled O’Conner from his class. An officer was waiting for the teenager and detained him.
At one point, O’Conner managed to free one of his hands from the handcuffs, allowing him to run across the parking lot in an escape attempt.
A mulch-covered area near the black top caused him to fall. When the policeman caught up, O’Conner “mule-kicked” him. After a brief struggle, the officer subdued the student.
Once in custody, O’Conner was connected to the robbery of an AM/PM store that occurred Monday, KOMO reported.
His journal described entering the convenience store with a mask, jacket, and rifle that were found at his grandmother’s home.
According to court documents, O’Conner planned to use the money from the robbery to fund his shooting at ACES High School.
The student is charged with attempted murder and assault of a police officer.
Julie Primachik, a neighbor, praised the grandmother’s actions.
“There’s a lot of kids who could have lost their lives,” she told KOMO. “I think it’s a hero-like thing to do.”
Mukilteo School District spokesman also spoke highly of the intervention. “It would have been a terrible tragedy if it happened. And this grandmother by catching that, really saved a lot of lives.”