Police in southern Colorado confirmed on Friday they had uncovered an alleged plot by two teenagers to commit a school shooting, just a week after a student opened fire in the halls of a suburban Denver high school.
Trinidad Police Chief Charles Glorioso said the department's school resource officer received information on Thursday suggesting that the two boys, ages 15 and 16, planned an attack at Trinidad High School in the new year.
The tip-off led to extra security being put in place across three Trinidad schools on the last day of classes before the holidays.
Each school was placed in “lockout” status, where children and staff were locked inside, until it had been confirmed that the boys were not in the building.
Mr Glorioso said the two boys in had been planning the attack for approximately six weeks but would not discuss any details of the plot or how they planned to carry it out. He said a search of their homes did not turn up any weapons, but “they had talked about what they could do to get them.”
On Friday both boys were arrested on suspicion of making a credible threat against a school and inciting destruction of life or property.
Mr Glorioso said police had learned the 15-year-old boy had been subject to bullying and had allegedly said he idolized the shooters in the Columbine High School and Aurora theatre massacres in Colorado.
No information on the older boy was available, such as the nature of their relationship with each other.
The arrests closely follows the 13 December shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado where Karl Halverson Pierson, 18, opened fire, hitting Claire Davis, 17, a fellow senior, before killing himself. Ms Davis remains in critical condition.
Frank Ruybalid, district attorney for Las Animas and Huerfano counties, said that he couldn't discuss the specifics of the case because it involved juveniles. But he said he supported the response by police and the school district.
“Any evidence regarding a threat to students at our schools is going to be taken very seriously,” he said.