Police: Teen behind near-shooting had change of heart

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Photo from AP/The Canton Repository (Shot by Bob Rossiter) Photo from AP/The Canton Repository (Shot by Bob Rossiter)

MASSILLON, Tenn. (WAND) – Police say a 13-year-old teen nearly carried out a school shooting before changing his mind.

Jackson Township Police Chief Mark Brink says that on Feb. 20, Keith Simons came out of a bathroom at Jackson Middle School near Massillon, Tenn., just before classes started while carrying a semi-automatic rifle. He then went back into the restroom and turned the gun on himself.

Police say the student hid the gun in his clothes on the bus and had ammunition in his backpack, along with bottle rockets and batteries.

A police investigation discovered the student had spent at least week planning an attack. Officers looked at messages on his cell phone detailing how he admired the two students who carried out the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

“I want to leave a lasting impression on the world,” one of the messages said. “I’m going to die doing it.”

Police say they don’t know why the teen decided against carrying out the shooting.

“We should thank God every day, whatever made him change his mind,” Brink said.

This situation happened just days after a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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