Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Mum stands by 'shoot up school' son

Sammie Chavez is accused of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm or death to other students (AP/Washington County Sheriff's Office)

An Oklahoma teenager accused of plotting to attack his high school showed symptoms of possible mental illness and had been seeing a therapist, but did not seriously plan violence, his mother said.

Jessie Chavez told the Tulsa World that her 18-year-old son Sammie sent her a text message two days before his December 14 arrest, saying he wanted to "shoot up" Bartlesville High School because he thought pupils were talking about him behind his back.

She said she showed the message to their therapists but had not decided whether to take further action by the time her son was arrested. "Deep down, I don't think my son would have done this," she told the newspaper. "That's not my son. My son laughs and makes jokes. He's always pulling pranks."

Sammie Chavez's arrest came hours before 20-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut primary school. Lanza also killed his mother and later himself.

Sammie Chavez is being held on a one million-dollar bond in the Washington County Jail accused of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm or death to other students.

His mother told the Tulsa World her son called her from jail after hearing of the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, and told her he was devastated that people thought he was capable of such an act. "He said, 'All these babies, Mom. Who would do that? How could people think I would do that?'," Ms Chavez said.

An assistant principal at Bartlesville High School contacted police on December 13 after a pupil said Sammie Chavez "tried to recruit other students to assist him with carrying out a plan to lure students into the school auditorium where he planned to begin shooting them after chaining the doors shut", Lt Kevin Ickleberry of Bartlesville police said in an affidavit.

"He also told them that he would place bombs by the doors so when the police arrived he would detonate the bombs, killing police as they entered the building," Lt Ickleberry wrote.

Police later seized a rifle from Chavez's home in Bartlesville, about 50 miles north of Tulsa.

Ms Chavez said her son might have gone too far with the thought of retaliating for what he perceived as people talking about him, but she said she was certain he never intended to follow through. "I don't say that just because I'm his mother but because of all the experiences we've had," she said. "Nobody knows Sammie like I do."

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