A 17-year-old George Mason High School student was arrested today at 11 a.m. and received a felony charge for making threats to bomb and/or damage a building.
City of Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin and Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan held a joint press conference this evening to explain that the arrest was made as a result of a multi-day investigation that started on Dec. 5. That day, a student alerted Mason’s school administration about the suspect’s threats that included entering the school with weapons and explosives to”take out people and certain aspects of the school,” per Gavin.
“We applaud the courage of the student who came forward and helped to take care of our community that we live in everyday,” Noonan said.
From there police created a security plan to safeguard the school and community while the investigation was underway. Over the next two days interviews with multiple witnesses corroborated what the first student said regarding the suspect’s stated intent to bring weapons and explosives into the school to cause harm to students and teachers alike. Each witness feared that the suspect was capable of carrying out the plan and prompted FCCPS and City Police to keep the suspect at home until the investigation was complete.
According to Gavin, the suspect’s desire to commit violent acts on school property came from an anger toward the school community as a whole. Gavin later explained that “In [the suspect’s] mind, he had [specified] particular people, but…I do not have electronic, digital evidence yet.”
More information will become available as the police search two phones and a laptop acquired during a warranted search of the suspect’s home following his arrest. During the search police did discover four replica weapons, all of which were BB guns, however one was altered to appear like a real weapon by modifying the federally mandated orange tip on the gun’s muzzle. No explosives were discovered during the home search.
Gavin indicated that one witness had heard about the suspect’s threats as early as two weeks ago. The suspect was taken to the Arlington County Juvenile Court soon after his arrest where he had a formal hearing with the judge this afternoon.
Anyone with information should call the Detective Richardson with the City of Falls Church Police at 703-248-5327 (TTY 711).