|Jared Cano, 17, appeared in court yesterday in Florida after he allegedly planned to bomb his former school. (Cherie Diez/St. Petersburg Times)|
TAMPA - Tampa police have arrested an expelled student after thwarting what they deemed a potentially catastrophic plot to set off a bomb at his former high school and cause mass casualties on the first day of classes next week, authorities said yesterday.
Police Chief Jane Castor said Jared Cano, 17, had threatened to plant a bomb at Freedom High School in north Tampa and detonate the device when students return Tuesday.
The suspect was arrested Tuesday night after someone alerted police to the alleged plot.
Castor said that the alleged bombing plot was planned minute by minute and the intent was to cause more casualties than the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which resulted in 13 deaths before the two shooters killed themselves.
Castor said police and the school system “were probably able to thwart a potentially catastrophic event, the likes of which the city of Tampa has not seen, and hopefully never will.’’
At Cano’s apartment, police discovered materials to make pipe bombs, shrapnel, plastic tubing, and timing and fusing devices, along with a fuel source, Castor said. Police also found a journal with schematic drawings of rooms inside the school and statements about the teenager’s intent to kill, police said.
The Tampa high school shares a cafeteria with its neighboring middle school, increasing the potential threat to hundreds of additional students, officials noted.
The plot targeted specific school administrators and any students who were nearby, police said.