Criminal law

This Teen Planned A School Shooting. But Did He Break The Law?

It turned into sunny and cold on Feb. 13, 2018, while 18-12 months-antique Jack Sawyer walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland, Vt., with a brand-new pump-action shotgun and 4 packing containers of ammunition. The next day, Valentine’s Day, Sawyer took his new gun out for target exercise. Around the same time, about 1,500 miles away in Parkland, Fla., a 19-yr-old shot and killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Not long after, Vermont found out it’d have narrowly prevented a similar bloodbath. State Police announced they had arrested Sawyer after allegedly threatening to motive mass casualties at his former high college in Fair Haven, a small town near the New York border. Police stated Sawyer had described his plans in-depth: He informed them he was analyzing books approximately the 1999 Columbine taking pictures and related to the two shooters. Sawyer stated he moved returned to Vermont to satisfy a comparable plan at Fair Haven Union High School.

He also allows police to search his car, where they determined the shotgun and ammunition he had legally bought and a diary titled “The Journal of an Active Shooter.” But Fair Haven Union High School did now not be part of Marjory Stoneman Douglas or Santa Fe or Columbine or Virginia Tech. In many methods, the system worked: Someone noticed something, then said something, and police made an arrest. But what passed off next might play out an essential tension at the coronary heart of our crook justice system: At what factor does a thought — or a plan — end up against the law?


“I realize I need to inform someone right away.” Police stated they started preserving tabs on Sawyer once you have a tip from Jennifer Mortenson on Feb. 14. Her daughter changed a few years before Sawyer at Fair Haven Union, and Mortenson becomes conscious that Sawyer threatened the high faculty in the beyond. She has become alarmed whilst she heard from a friend of her daughter’s that Sawyer had offered a gun. Then Parkland passed off, and Mortenson decided to alert the police. Officers answered, however after wondering Sawyer, they determined they did not have grounds to arrest him.

Then a pal of Sawyer’s named Angela McDevitt spoke up. A few days earlier than Parkland, Sawyer and McDevitt were chatting on Facebook Messenger. According to a police report, Sawyer told McDevitt, “Just a few days in the past, I turned into still plotting on popping up my vintage excessive college.” McDevitt changed into bowled over and scared — she wasn’t sure what to do. Then she heard about Parkland and messaged him about it.

Sawyer’s response shocked her: “That’s wonderful,” he wrote. “100% guide it.” Just a few days ago, I became nevertheless plotting on popping up my antique high faculty. – Jack Sawyer, in Feb. Eleven, 2018, message to Angela McDevitt “I consider gazing at my telephone, just being like, ‘Oh my God.’ I became so in shock,” McDevitt says. “I changed into much like, ‘You can not say that; humans are dead.’ And that’s after I kinda became like, ‘I understand I want to inform someone immediately.’ ”

On Feb. 15, McDevitt showed the messages to authorities near her domestic in upstate New York. By early afternoon, Vermont State Police had Sawyer in custody. Sawyer became positioned in a small room at the police station and interviewed with the aid of two Vermont State Police detectives. The detectives videotaped their conversation, and the recording became blanketed in courtroom documents. For example, it shows police telling Sawyer that his mother and father are waiting out of doors. The 18-yr-old says he prefers to speak to the police without his dad and mom.

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