Two teen boys were arrested this week after cops say they plotted a Columbine-style massacre at their Florida middle school in which some students were given a safe word and told to wear white to avoid being a target.
The unidentified students, ages 13 and 14, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and placed into the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice Thursday after rumors at The Villages charter school in Sumter County led authorities to their homes.
According to a sheriff’s office release, both teens had firearms at their residences.
Police say they learned Tuesday that the boys had planned their assault for Friday. The following day, the 13-year-old was intercepted by police on his way to school.
“At that time, he acknowledged conversations involving the plot and referenced the mass shooting at Columbine High School,” the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office statement said.
Authorities then made contact with the 14-year-old suspect, who they say “acknowledged his involvement in conversations with the 13-year-old student, again referencing the Columbine shooting.”
The shooting was planned to begin during the boys’ gym class, when one would drop a pencil to signal the other to start firing, according to reports.
Students who were aware of the plot were reportedly warned that they would not be shot if they wore white or shouted “Eugene” during the assault. Others were told not to come to school at all.
Police say the teens told them they planned to use a code word for when to open fire.
On Thursday, both teens were arrested at their respective homes, where firearms were recovered, police said.
An increased deputy presence was expected at the school an hour outside Orlando Friday, though no additional arrests are expected.