With news of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida on everyone’s mind, the national conversation has turned once again to the topic of gun violence. Survivors from the school have banded together to protest and to lobby for changes to gun laws in the state. Other questions have come to the forefront as well about how these shootings could’ve been prevented and if there were warning signs. Though there were clear warning signs in the case of Parkland (as The Washington Post has reported), they were not adequately acted upon.
Still, these early warnings don’t always have to be ignored as one story out of Frederick County, Maryland proves.
In the interest of not providing names to school shooters, it all began when a father came across his daughter’s diary.
Having perhaps noticed something strange about her behavior, the father decided to investigate for himself—and what he found shocked him. In his daughter’s diary were a series of disturbing entries, some referencing similar shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and in Columbine, Colorado. The diary also contained detailed information about the school’s emergency procedures in order to subvert them.
Perhaps above all, it revealed his daughter’s plans to be the world’s first female mass shooter.
Upon discovering the information, he turned his daughter in to the FBI.
After studying the claims more closely, the police found sufficient evidence to determine that the thoughts in the diary were not just idle thoughts. The daughter in the story had targeted Catoctin High School in Frederick County and had seemingly begun to amass materials to make a pipe bomb. On the strength of the father’s tip, the daughter was taken out of school on March 23rd, 2017 and was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.
After everything, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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Though this story is a little uncomfortable, it raises important questions about how we try to deal with these issues.
Had the father not been paying attention to his daughter’s behavior at home, the attack being planned might’ve actually been carried out. Surely not every parent could willingly turn their children over to the FBI for these issues, but the story remains an important reminder of just how important it is to pay attention to these warning signs. With that being said, more action is surely needed in addition to more vigilance to prevent these tragedies in the future.
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