BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) — Hours before a gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school, police in Oklahoma arrested a teenager for allegedly plotting to attack his high school and trying to recruit classmates to help him.
Police in Bartlesville, a community about 40 miles north of Tulsa, arrested 18-year-old Sammie Eaglebear Chavez shortly before 5 a.m. Friday on charges of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm or death. He remained in Washington County Jail on Saturday on $1 million bond, and he is due in court Jan. 11.
Court documents didn't list an attorney for Chavez, and calls to a number listed in court documents as his reached a recorded message saying the line wasn't available.
Layne Jones, an assistant principal at the school, alerted police to the alleged plot on Thursday, according to a probable cause statement. A student told authorities that Chavez had tried to "recruit other students to assist him with carrying out a plan to lure students into the school auditorium where he planned to begin shooting them after chaining the doors shut," police said.
"Sammie tried to recruit other students to assist him with carrying out a plan to lure students into the school auditorium where he planned to begin shooting them after chaining the doors shut," Bartlesville Police Lt. Kevin Ickleberry wrote in the affidavit.
Chavez told the students he planned to place bombs at the doors that he'd detonate when police arrived, and he threatened to kill students who didn't want to join him, police wrote.
Investigators said Chavez told a teacher earlier this month that he had bought a .45-caliber gun and had been learning to shoot it. Also, the affidavit said Chavez had been trying to obtain a diagram of school facilities and had used a school computer to seek information on a .22-caliber rifle that could be mounted on a machine gun platform.
Students said they saw Chavez researching the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which 12 Colorado students and a teacher were murdered by two students who also died.
The district alerted parents and faculty by email around noon on Friday that it had investigated a "potential incident" Thursday and forwarded the information to the police department, which dealt with it appropriately. News was still trickling out about the attack in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman forced his way into an elementary school and killed 20 children, all ages 6 or 7, and six adults before killing himself.
Superintendent Gary Quinn, in a news release, credited administrators' quick action in following up on what he said had been unsubstantiated rumor and presenting their findings to the authorities.
"We appreciate the excellent relationship we have with our local law enforcement and their swift response to the information we provided them. We will always put the safety of the students of the Bartlesville Public School District first and foremost."