How a grandmother in Everett prevented tragedy

Mar 20, 2018, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:50 pm
An 18-year-old allegedly planned to carry out a school shooting at Aces High School. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The massacre at a Florida high school could have easily happened in Everett had it not been for the actions of a heroic grandmother.

Student ‘couldn’t wait’ for school shooting

Joshua O’Connor, 18, was arrested the day before the Parkland shooting. His grandmother found a journal detailing his plans to shoot up his school, Aces High School in the Mukilteo School District. According to court records, the journal includes more than two months of entries about his plans to shoot up the school in April and kill as many students as possible, maybe some teachers, and his hope of killing at least one “Mukilteo pig.”

In the journal, according to court documents, he talks about wanting to die, suffering from depression, and ways to kill himself after the shooting. He writes about flipping a coin to decide whether to carry out the attack at his former school, Kamiak High School, or Aces.

O’Connor references the Columbine shooting multiple times. Including a minute-by-minute timeline of that attack and how one of the shooters had the right idea when he chose to use a High Point 9mm rifle. It was the same gun O’Connor purchased legally after his 18th birthday in December to use in his attack, according to the journal.

“I’m preparing myself for the school shooting,” O’Conner wrote. “I can’t wait. My aim has gotten much more accurate … I can’t wait to walk into that class and blow all those (expletive)s away.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot … I can make this shooting/bombing at Kamiak infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I need to make this count. I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings). I’m learning from past shooters/bombers’ mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”

The journal also serves as a to-do list. It includes a list of other weapons and explosive ingredients he planned to acquire before the shooting.

O’Connor’s grandmother went into his room February 12, the night before his arrest. While searching his room, she saw what she believed was marijuana paraphernalia and began pulling his bedding off to search for a lighter. Instead, she found the journal.

That’s when she learned of her grandson’s plans. She also discovered he hid the rifle he bought in a guitar case. Worried, she made copies of the journal entries.

The guitar case wasn’t there at the time but it was the next morning. When the grandmother looked inside she found the gun and called 911.

Investigators searched the home and found explosives including CO2 bombs or “crickets,” explosives used by the Columbine shooters, along with other evidence. They found masks that link O’Connor to an armed robbery committed the night before where cops say he and friend made off with $100.

O’Connor was arrested and charged with armed robbery, possession of an explosive device, and attempted first-degree murder for plotting the school shooting.

Law allows students to return to school after arrests for guns

Prosecutors were able to charge him with attempted murder because he took significant steps to carry out his plan, including allegedly robbing the store, buying a rifle, and having explosives he described in the journal that he planned to use.

O’Connor was ordered held $5 million bail. He’s expected in court early next month.

Local News

Police follow protesters as they move through the city during racial justice protests on November 3...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Seattle City Council passes ordinance offering incentives for hard-to-fill jobs, including police

The Seattle City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance in a 6-3 vote that will allow departments to offer relocation assistance to new hires for hard-to-fill jobs, including police officers.
9 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, from...
Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden says ‘we have to act’ after Texas school shooting

President Joe Biden called for new restrictions on firearms Tuesday night after a gunman massacred 18 children at a Texas elementary school.
1 day ago
Law enforcement work the scene after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where 19 people, inc...
MyNorthwest Staff

State officials speak out on gun control amid aftermath of Texas school shooting

Multiple Washington representatives spoke out after the shooting, sharing their condolences while condemning gun violence.
1 day ago
west seattle bridge...
Dalton Day

Concrete strike’s impact on West Seattle Bridge timeline unclear as SDOT makes final pours

SDOT still hopes to open the West Seattle Bridge in “mid-2022." A to-be-announced, updated timeline will be delivered on June 9.
1 day ago
King County interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall...
MyNorthwest Staff

King County confirms Patti Cole-Tindall as new Sheriff

The King County Council voted unanimously to confirm Patti Cole-Tindall as the new King County Sheriff on Tuesday.
1 day ago
Dalton Day

Seattle loses battle over Burke-Gilman Trail’s ‘missing link’ as project funds sunset

A spate of legal challenges over the 1.4-mile stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail's missing link jeopardizes its completion.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
How a grandmother in Everett prevented tragedy