PAW PAW, MI (WOOD/CNN) – A 15-year-old high school student allegedly planned an attack on his school after being bullied but confessed to his parents before he followed through.
The Paw Paw High School student, who is not being identified because he is a minor, was arraigned Monday afternoon on eight criminal charges, including attempted manufacture of explosives and possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle.
The boy’s mother and stepfather say he approached them early Sunday, obviously distraught, and told them he had planned to kill the students who were bullying him.
“He came to us and said that he’s been really upset and said that he’s been planning to do something bad,” the boy’s stepfather said. “It was a big shock.”
After their son talked to them, his parents took him to the sheriff’s department, where he told authorities what he’d been planning.
The 15-year-old had stolen two guns from his grandparents’ home and cut them so they would fit into his backpack, his parents say.
Police say he had also put together Molotov cocktails and had at least some of the materials to make pipe bombs.
The teen’s parents say the 15-year-old had been bullied since starting in the school district last year and that things got worse after a photo of the boy in his underwear somehow began to circulate throughout the student body.
“Since that point, it’s just been relentless,” his stepfather said.
Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott says this was a very close call.
“There’s no question in my mind there was going to be a terrorist act today. The guns were going to go inside a school along with the bombs, and it was going to be a bad environment today,” Abbott said.
Paw Paw Public Schools called off classes Monday due to the threat. Authorities wanted to make sure the teen was acting alone. After searching the school, investigators say there is no ongoing threat. School is expected to resume Tuesday.
Abbott says the teen’s parents may have saved lives.
“These parents did a good job, and I hope the public sees that,” he said.
The teen’s parents say their son deserves credit too.
“He walked right into the lobby and was like, ‘This is what I’ve been planning on doing.’ He said, ‘This is where you can find everything,’” the boy’s stepfather said.
The 15-year-old is being held in the Allegan Juvenile Center. Prosecutors want to try him as an adult because of the seriousness of the offense. A decision will be made at a March 29 hearing.
The boy’s family and the sheriff say they hope he gets the help he needs.