Police in Tampa, Florida say that a 17-year-old arrested for possession of bomb-making materials was intending to kill dozens of students in what could have been a massacre more deadly than the Columbine school shootings.
Jared Cano was arrested after police followed up on a tip and discovered explosive materials at his home, as well as a detailed plan laying out targets at Freedom High School in an attack scheduled to take place at the start of the school year next week.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said Cano hoped to kill two school administrators and about 30 students, in a school attack that would exceed the level of violence during the 1999 high school shootings in Columbine, Colorado.
The Tampa school attack would have been a “potentially catastrophic event,” Castor told CNN.
"We were probably able to thwart a potentially catastrophic event the likes of which the city of Tampa has not seen and hopefully never will," Castor told a news conference, Reuters reports.
Cano has been charged with possession of bomb-making materials after fuel, shrapnel, plastic tubing and timing and fusing devices were found at his home.
He was reportedly expelled from Freedom High School in March 2010 after what was described as an “off-campus incident” and “inappropriate behavior,” with no further details given.
Police said there was no evidence that Cano’s family was aware of the plan, and they have been cooperating with authorities.
News of the attack left the Tampa community shaken, and police have agreed to ramp up security for the first day of school, scheduled for Tuesday.