School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

August 26, 2010 -

Authorities have arrested a 17-year old Tampa, Florida youth, who apparently expressed an interest in surpassing the death tolls of the Columbine and Virginia Tech school shootings.

Austin James Cook, according to TampaBay.com, was looking for help in his planned massacre, which he had scheduled for November 11, 2011, or 11/11/11. Authorities were tipped to Cook’s plans and began an investigation in July. The boy was arrested on Monday.

After Cook’s mother consented to letting police search her son’s room, they found an antique .22 caliber rifle, which hadn’t been fired in 40 years, a bow and arrow and “several books about firearms.” A search of Cook’s computer revealed “a Columbine video game” (Super Columbine Massacre RPG no doubt).

Some of the similarities between Cook and the Columbine shooters are a little eerie, whether coincidental or not. The arrest report pinned Cook as a member of a gang called “Anonymous Goons,” which his mother said was simply a name that a group of friends gave to themselves. Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were (falsely) linked to a similar group at their school, the Trench Coat Mafia.

Cook was also reportedly considering joining the military after receiving his GED, similar to Harris’ flirtation with joining the Marine Corps (he had met with a Marine Corp. recruiter). The seriousness of Harris' commitment to joining the military has been questioned in retrospect; it’s thought that it was more of a smokescreen to get his parents off his back.

Also, Cook had a few run-ins with the law. He was arrested at school last year for marijuana possession and, in April of this year, he was arrested again for “busted up some cars,” reportedly slashing their tires and breaking windshields.

Dylan and Klebold were arrested shortly before undertaking their massacre for breaking into a van and stealing electronic equipment. An investigator in the case, as written in the book Columbine, billed that event as “the single most important event in Eric’s progression to murder.”

Cook is being held without bond.


Comments

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

how is this related to computer games?

BCD303 "Speedy thing goes in. Speedy thing comes out."

BCD303 "Speedy thing goes in. Speedy thing comes out."

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Hardly a school shooting suspect, is he?  I mean, if there wasn't actually a school shooting.

I realize "school shooting conspiracy suspect" makes for a more awkward headline, but...isn't the very next story down one that complains about reporters using misleading headlines?

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

It's not that there was a school shooting, it;s that one was potentially averted. Hopefully we get more facts later.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Well, exactly, but he's not suspected of a school shooting, he's suspected of PLANNING one.  Obviously that's a bad thing, but calling him a "school shooting suspect" implies that, well, there was a school shooting.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Exactly spot on.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Ah... ha.....

I can recall in high school I had a conversation with some friends about how many students I could kill with the jawbone of an ass.... I guess today that would be enough to land me in adult prision, esp if they went to my room and found books on animals.

This is the problem with being so proactive in such cases.  If one has not actually done ANY planning or obtaining of equipment, it is really hard to tell if the person had any real intent to cause harm.  Seriously.... who does not, now and then, blow off a little steam with friends by saying how much you want to kill someone (or a group).  Crow, look at internet forums and how often people happily toss around genocide when they have probably not done anything more violent in their life then run over a squril.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Samson fan are we?

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

It IS an awfully fine line, and from the story it's hard to tell if there was really a legitimate conspiracy -- music lyrics on a MySpace page and books about guns aren't exactly probable cause.

Most likely, the real evidence is in his attempt to recruit someone to help him -- he says he was joking, whoever accused him thinks it's serious.  We don't have enough detail yet to know who's telling the truth.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

In my mind, with what is given, it is not a thin line.

If someone has taken no material steps twards a crime and is puretly 'joking with a friend', then no crime has happened.  This should be a strait forward bill of rights issue.. freedom of speech, freedom to associate.   It did not rise to the level of fighting words so that exemption can not cut in.

I see cases like this as local officals implementing 'cover your ass security'... being over zealous and gaining politial points in cases where they know the backlash will be low and the victim unable to do much to hurt them politically.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

I agree that *if* he was just joking around, while I would find it in bad taste, he shouldnt' be arrested.

However, if he was talking about recruiting help, just remember freedom of speech does NOT protect anything that's intended to incite violence - recruiting for a school shooting isn't exactly pacifist.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

That certainly happens, but it's too early for me to make a call on whether that's what's happened here.  It's not exactly unusual for the accused to proclaim his innocence while the police keep their evidence under wraps.  Yeah, that could mean that their evidence is flimsy, but it's also what a smart, professional PD would do: you don't go giving your early evidence to the press; you wait to build a case for the trial.

Could go either way; we'll see what else comes out on this one.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Good thing they got him before anything serious had happened.

Unfortunately, especialyl wit hthe prpximety to a certain soemone ,video games wille be massivley played up.

Re: School Shooting Suspect Arrested in Florida

Well, it appears he hasn't really done anything and he'll at most serve a few months in a juvenile facility, get bullied or worse, then come out again even more screwed up and REALLY ready to commit some murders. So yeah, I don't know how great a thing this really was.

 
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Andrew EisenWhat if creators heard our feedback, agreed with it and then... oh god... made a better show? The HORROR!!!07/01/2015 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenI mean, next thing you know they'll make a YouTube video. A YOUTUBE VIDEO!!!07/01/2015 - 4:07pm
Andrew EisenHow DARE anyone write an opinion suggesting that people who suck at something might consider a better way to accomplish the same thing or improve so they suck less. The NERVE!07/01/2015 - 4:06pm
Goth_SkunkYes, but we complain about it amongst ourselves, we shake our heads, we sigh, shrug our shoulders and say 'oh well, what can you do?' We don't write articles for Wired and say 'Anyone can write about X, but should they? Probably not.'07/01/2015 - 3:57pm
Andrew EisenMy favorite is: "Zoom and enhance!"07/01/2015 - 3:55pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, you must not hang out with many technology experts. We complain about bad portrayals of tech all the time.07/01/2015 - 3:52pm
Andrew EisenPeople should be free to write about anything their little hearts desire. Even if they suck at it. Maybe not the most advisable thing to do, depending on their personal goals. But that's why you listen and learn and improve! Or try to, anyway.07/01/2015 - 3:50pm
Andrew EisenAnd you're straying from the path a bit but the sentiment in and of itself I agree with.07/01/2015 - 3:47pm
Goth_SkunkBut, as in the example I provided with call tracing and cell phone triangulation, the audience lets it slide, even the subject matter experts.07/01/2015 - 3:47pm
Andrew EisenGreat! Maybe you'd change your mind if you read her reasons for suggesting such a thing, maybe not. But at least now you're opining what she actually said!07/01/2015 - 3:46pm
Goth_SkunkFor the sake of entertainment, people write about things they shouldn't write about all the time. If they stopped, most things fiction would cease to exist.07/01/2015 - 3:46pm
Goth_SkunkAnd I think that's a despicable thing to suggest, worse than someone who sucks at writing a rape scene doing so. By all means, if the rape scene was poorly written, criticize it after the fact.07/01/2015 - 3:45pm
Andrew EisenYou're not wrong that she's suggesting that people who suck at writing rape scenes (which is who "anyone" refers to) probably shouldn't, yes.07/01/2015 - 3:42pm
Goth_SkunkAnd I will point out again that you're wrong. It's quite plainly stated anyone can write a rape scene, but they probably shouldn't. She's very general in the statement because she's using the word 'anyone,' but I am not wrong.07/01/2015 - 3:39pm
Andrew EisenBut, at least that was a lot closer to what she's actually arguing.07/01/2015 - 3:38pm
Andrew EisenIf you read the article you'd realize why that comparison doesn't work.07/01/2015 - 3:37pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.dota2.com/international/compendium/ the COMPENDIUM hit 15 mill, so that means valve got 60 million.07/01/2015 - 3:35pm
Goth_Skunkget it wrong, so should they write about their usage in their stories? Chances are, the answer is no.07/01/2015 - 3:34pm
Andrew EisenShe's also not saying people should not write about topics they're not experts in or otherwise personally experienced.07/01/2015 - 3:34pm
Goth_SkunkIf I may, let me take the premise of what the writer has stated and turn it towards something I am personally experienced in: Movies, books, or television crime series that make use of 'Caller tracing' or 'cell-phone location triangulation' frequently07/01/2015 - 3:33pm
 

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