A grandmother in Washington, is being credited with halting a potential mass shooting situation at an Everett school. She warned authorities when she discovered a disturbing journal written by her 18-year-old grandson. Thanks to her vigilance, Joshua Alexander O’Connor of ACES High School was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, as well as other charges.
After discovering her grandson’s journal that outlined thoughts about killing his classmates, the concerned grandmother dialed 911 at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. An Everett Police press release describes how officers responded to the call to a residence located at the 10600 block of Holly Drive and were met by the grandmother. They were then shown the journal, which also included plans to utilize homemade explosives at the Everett school.
A Seattle Times article describes how the suspect wrote in his journal that he couldn’t “wait to walk into that class and blow all those (expletives) away.”
The potential for tragedy was realistic: O’Connor reportedly owned a semiautomatic AK-47 assault rifle, which he kept stored in a guitar case. There were also inert grenades stored at the grandmother’s house, according to county prosecutors, which were seized along with the rifle after police detectives served a search warrant.
Said Andy Muntz, a spokesman for the Mukilteo School District: “We are really grateful to the grandmother. [Calling the police] couldn’t have been easy for her to do.”
When O’Connor was arrested at ACES Alternative School on Tuesday, a knife and marijuana were found on him. O’Connor also faces assault charges for allegedly kicking an officer at the time of his arrest. This occurred after he escaped one of his handcuffs in an attempt to escape.
Excerpts from the journal reveal pervasive patterns of O’Connor’s thinking: “I need to make this shooting/bombing infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can.”
There was also a great desire to improve through study of the methods used by mass killers of the past. O’Connor wrote about his own goal of making his actions count by not repeating the mistakes that others had made in the past.
Denial ran strong among friends and peers of O’Connor.
“Me and a couple of his other good friends are shaken up, because we know how good of a kid he is,” said AES student Olivia Fox.
There are several characteristics that nearly all mass killers share. Besides the lack of empathy that defines sociopaths, they usually desire to gain fame or notoriety from their killings. Experts believe this compensates for their inability to achieve the same level of attention through normal channels.
Among O’Connor’s plans to achieve maximum casualties included the use of pressure cooker bombs. These are improvised explosive devices that have been previously used in multiple bombing attacks, such as the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing that killed 23 people and injured 500 others.
Although the suspect had no prior criminal record, he is suspected of being one of the two people who robbed a convenience store on February 12. Police believe that he used his AK-47 in the robbery, and court documents revealed that he wrote in his journal about feeling powerful by terrifying the female clerk during the robbery.
O’Connor is charged with attempted murder due to planning and taking substantial steps towards executing a school shooting and is being held at the Snohomish County Jail on a $5.0-million bond.