LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two teenagers who conspired to kill three members of staff and many students at a high school in a Los Angeles suburb were charged on Wednesday with one count each of making criminal threats, prosecutors said.
Rebecca Lewis, deputy district attorney at Los Angeles County, said in a statement the teens talked about carrying out a mass shooting at their high school and they allegedly shared their plans with another teen who they threatened to kill.
A community member brought the information to authorities.
The boys, ages 16 and 17, denied the charges in Pasadena Juvenile Court, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said on Twitter.
Detectives learned of the plot last Thursday from school administrators and investigators worked to unravel the plan, which involved borrowing a gun belonging to one boy’s relatives and a possible gunfight with officers, South Pasadena police said on Tuesday.
“As they put it, they just wanted to kill as many people as possible,” police chief Arthur Miller said at a news conference. “There was no target date but they had a very, very specific plan.”
Officers on Monday arrested the students, whose names were not released because they are minors, when they raided their homes in South Pasadena, an affluent suburb of 24,000 people about eight miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Since then, students and officials have expressed relief the attack was prevented at South Pasadena High, which has 1,500 students and begins classes on Thursday.
Police said the students discussed via Internet messages plans to make explosives and researched what type of guns to use, how to shoot one and how to fix a firearm that malfunctioned.
The Pasadena Star-News newspaper quoted the stepfather of the 16-year-old as saying: “He had no intention of going to the school and actually harming the people that he loves.”
The newspaper said the charges were related to making criminal threats against another teen.
In May, a 16-year-old boy suspected of threatening to attack his school was arrested at his apartment in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, where officers found a device intended to look like a bomb but containing no explosives. Later, the case was suspended and he was not charged because of a lack of evidence.
Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Robert Birsel