Two teens charged with chilling school shooting plot

Teenagers allegedly planned to chain doors shut and fire upon students and staff during lunchtime and post it on YouTube

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 22 September 2022 08:12 BST
'It should be dismissed', says defence lawyer of teen accused of plotting school shooting
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Two students in Houston, Texas, have been accused of plotting a school shooting.

Court documents show that Damian Darias and Cornell Thomas, 17 and 18 years old, respectively, have been charged with making a terroristic threat.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered that they stay in house arrest at all times with ankle monitors following their movements, KHOU 11 reported.

According to investigators, a classmate of the suspects claimed that they said that they were going to carry out the school shooting at James Madison High School last Friday. They reportedly said that they were going to lock up the school around lunch by using chains on the doors and then fire on staff and students.

The judge ruled that the teenagers must not have any contact with anyone at the school. They must be homeschooled and stay away from social media.

According to KHOU 11, Prosecutor Nancy Ta of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said, “we take this seriously. This is not a joke. This is not what you play around with”.

“So if anyone hears any threats, see’s anything suspicious to report it,” she added.

Mr Thomas’s defence lawyer Brennen Dunn said, “I think it should be dismissed”.

“I think at the end of the day we all start with an inlining of evidence and we try to form an opinion on what we don’t know,” Mr Dunn added, the local TV station reported.

He said that the student who had heard the threat was mistaken.

The judge added that both of the teenagers will have their mental health evaluated.

The teenagers made the threats last Wednesday, according to KTRK. They were both arrested that same day, 14 September, according to Houston Public Media.

Damian reportedly admitted that he was going to carry out the school shooting, a magistrate court judge said during Mr Thomas’ probable cause hearing on Friday, the local outlet reported.

It is alleged that Mr Thomas said he was going to shoot people at the school and that it would be posted on YouTube.

The bond for Mr Thomas was set at $70,000 and at $50,000 for Damian.

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) told KTRK in a statement that it “takes these situations very seriously, as the safety of students and staff is our top priority. However, due to an ongoing HISD Police investigation and the Family Education Right’s Privacy Act (FERPA), we are unable to provide additional details regarding this matter”.

On Friday, both parents and other students said they were frustrated with how the situation has been dealt with, saying that they had preferred to be made aware of the arrests on the day they occurred.

KTRK reported that Bailey Marshall, a senior at the school, said that “if I knew earlier, I wouldn’t be here. My family wouldn’t be here”.

“Everybody is capable of something,” she added.

The teenagers are being tried as adults after being released from jail on Tuesday. The third-degree felony may lead to a decade behind bars, according to Ms Ta.

“The threat was made in a classroom to a classmate telling the student not to go to school on Friday (16 September), because there was going to be a school shooting on that day,” Ms Ta said, according to Houston Public Media. “That classmate did the right thing, immediately reporting to the school officers. We were lucky enough to be at this stage and stop that from happening.”

Damian, according to court documents said he was planning to “ask his uncle Rick for a gun and bring it to school on Friday and do it during lunch, since there are two police in the cafeteria”.

“Especially in the post-Uvalde stage, school shootings are a thing,” Ms Ta added, referring to the elementary school shooting in Texas earlier this year when 21 people, including 19 children, were killed. “It happened. Multiple people were killed. It is serious, because we want to prevent that from happening, prevent kids from being killed.”

The Independent has reached out to the public defender for Damian Darias for comment.

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