An alert middle schooler is being credited with helping foil a school shooting massacre in Vermont’s Addison County.
Investigators said Tuesday that a 14-year-old student at Middlebury Union Middle School wanted to kill another kid he was angry with, and was willing to also gun down anyone who got in his way.
A buddy allegedly even offered to help him get firearms from a relative’s collection to carry out the plot, which police described as detailed and specific.
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The situation was uncovered, detectives say, when another middle schooler overheard scary talk and reported it.
"I think we can all say it was a pretty brave student who was able to come forward and talk to the officers," said Det. Kris Bowdish of the Middlebury Police Department. "It definitely helped us to keep the school safe and the intended target safe."
Because of the young age of the people involved, police are keeping many details about the case private.
The department did say one young suspect from Middlebury and one from neighboring Salisbury were removed from the middle school, adding that the accused plotter is now in the custody of the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
That child is receiving psychiatric care, Chief Tom Hanley of the Middlebury Police Department said.
Hanley praised educators for treating the young whistleblower’s report with the utmost urgency.
"Probably 30 or 40 years ago, it [might have been perceived as] just a silly prank or just idle chatter," Hanley said. "It’s not funny anymore. We take it serious. We will investigate and react any time we hear this."
Hanley said the guns the second suspect claimed to have access to were seized under what’s called an "extreme risk protection order" and secured, pending a court hearing.
Retired teacher Gerry Loney told necn the case illustrates to him how important it is to have regular, open conversations in schools about students’ concerns.
"And the kids need to feel that their words are going to fall on fertile ground," Loney said.
Karen Duguay has children in another school in the district. She said she’d like to see schools nationwide utilize mental health professionals to embrace kids at early stages of social development.
"It’s something I think about literally every day that I drop my kids off at school," Duguay said. "And our kids shouldn’t have to be going to school with this on their minds."
Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans said it’s too soon to know how he may proceed from a legal standpoint, because the case is still under investigation.
Still, he reiterated the police’s "if you see something, say something" plea, urging people to come forward with information whenever to keep their communities safe.
"We believe that there isn’t any longer any continuing danger, but if people do hear or learn something, it’s important for them to come forward," Wygmans said.