The disturbing statistic that there have been 18 school shootings in the US in the 47 days of 2018 so far — including the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL — could have been at least 19 by April 19 if it weren't for a grandmother who had the bravery and wherewithal to call 911 on her grandson, who was planning a shooting in Washington state.
Joshua Alexander O'Connor, an 18-year-old student at ACES Alternative High School in Everett, WA, was arrested on Feb. 14 and charged on Feb. 15 with attempted first degree murder for the alleged shooting plot, first degree robbery, and third degree assault.
Catherine O'Connor called 911 on Feb. 13 to inform the police that she found Joshua's journal with entries full of thought-out plans to perform a "massacre," as well as a semiautomatic rifle stored in a guitar case in her house. "What I'm reporting is I'm finding journal entries from my grandson," O'Connor told the 911 operator. "And he's planning on having a mass shooting at one of the high schools."
Joshua, who transferred to ACES High School this past Fall from another local school, wrote at length about the planned April 19 shooting in his journal. He allegedly flipped a coin to decide where to perform the shooting, whether ACES or his former high school, and ACES was chosen. The entries mentioned that Joshua wanted his act to be "infamous" and that he wanted to "get the biggest fatality number [he possibly could]."
Andy Muntz, a spokesman for the school district, said that Joshua "was not on their radar" and that they're grateful to O'Connor for turning in her grandson. "It really speaks to the importance of if you see something or hear something to notify the authorities. That's what she did. It could well have saved many, many lives including her grandson's life," Muntz told King5 News.
A fellow classmate, Olivia Fox, claimed to be a close friend and commented on the news, saying: "There was lot of shock around the school when they released a picture of who it was. Me and a couple of his other good friends are shaken up, because we know how good of a kid he is."
Although it was likely difficult to call the police on her grandson, O'Connor has probably saved the lives of so many innocent ACES high school students and employees. In this difficult period of US history in which school shootings have unfortunately become commonplace, it's hopeful to see someone take note of the actions of the people around them and stand against violence in this way, stopping what would have been another senseless tragedy.