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