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Thursday, September 20 News

Police: Suspect did not have access to father’s guns, investigation ongoing

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Westport Police Chief gives update on 'mass shooting' threats at Staples High School in Westport, Conn. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. See the full news conference here: http://bit.ly/2oBtMO1

Media: Connecticut Post

WESTPORT — Police said they intend to charge the Westport teenager who allegedly threatened a mass shooting at Staples High School.

The suspect remains at Norwalk Hospital, but police said Wednesday he will be charged as a juvenile when released from treatment.

The Staples student was taken into custody after another student overheard him threaten to shoot a teacher and reported the threat to school officials, who interviewed the student, learned he had thoughts of executing a mass shooting at the high school, and, around 9 a.m. Tuesday, called police, who took the suspect into custody.

As of 12:30 p.m on Wednesday, the subject was still held in the Emergency Unit of Norwalk Hospital.

“We have a lot of balls in the air,” Westport Lt. Jillian Cabana said Wednesday, noting the investigation is ongoing and police do not yet know what charges they will bring against the suspect. An investigation into the suspect’s home revealed a trove of guns, owned by the father.

Although police Chief Foti Koskinas said many of the weapons found are similar to those used in other mass shootings, Cabana said police were unable to confirm the make and model of any of the guns. The family voluntarily turned over the guns, which police say were properly registered, accounted for, and locked in the family’s home at the time of the investigation.

“(The suspect) didn’t physically have access to them at all,” Cabana said. The father also hold weapons at an out-of-state location, which police are looking into. It is still unknown where the father bought the guns but police detectives are looking into their source, Cabana said.

Tuesday’s threat came the same day a slew of Westchester County Schools were on lockdown out of fear an active shooter was at loose in the area and a week after Norwalk High School went on lockdown for fears of a shooter, which turned out to be void.

“You do sometimes see this type of activity afterwords,” Cabana said of the wave of threats, both valid and not, of mass shootings at high schools following the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Some good news has come out of the Stoneman Douglas High School with nation-wide conversations on school safety and access to firearms. On Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Good announced they will no longer sell assault-style rifles or firearms to people under 21, specifically citing the Parkland shooting in their announcement.

Meanwhile, Westport students returned to school Wednesday morning following an extensive search of the high school Tuesday night.

The investigation, however, is ongoing and police have search warrants for the suspect’s electronic devices and will be investigating the devices to determine whether the juvenile had actual motives or plans to execute a mass shooting, Cabana said. The Westport lieutenant said police were not aware of any red flags or information on the suspect that led them to be concerned about his thoughts of executing a mass shooting before the threat was reported to police Tuesday morning.

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Every school in Westport had increased security and police staffing, something Cabana said would continue for the rest of the week to ensure student safety and because police understand the incident Tuesday is still raw in the minds of students.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; @SophieCVaughan1

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