PSS Statement on Waseca, San Antonio, and Milford High School Incidents

The Preventing School Shootings group (PSS) offers both condolences and hope to all those affected by the rash of stabbings and prevented shootings at James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut, and Waseca Junior and Senior High School in Waseca, Minnesota. PSS further hopes that the teen perpetrators, Brendan Tarwater, Christopher Plaskon, and John David LaDue, respectively, are not only brought to justice, but get the help that they each need.

“It is profoundly disturbing to have three incidents in the space of a week, and unbelievably sad to have lost another high school student,” said Preventing School Shootings founder Anne P. Mitchell, referring to the stabbing death of Maren Sanchez at Jonathan Law High in Connecticut. “But it’s also important to keep in mind that school shooters (and stabbers) are not born that way. There is something horribly wrong about the systems in which our boys are being cultured that – in some boys – leads to this outcome. And it’s time that we stop sticking our heads in the sand, and that we take a good, hard look at what is going on.”

Jonathan Law High School student Christopher Plaskon allegedly stabbed Maren Sanchez to death, while James Madison High School student Brendan Tarwater took his parents’ weapons to school, and Waseca student John David LaDue allegedly had amassed weapons to carry out his plan for “mass destruction” at his school.

Says Mitchell, “The fact that two other incidents were averted by the observations of the parents in one case, and a good samaritan in the other, demonstrates that these incidents of violence are preventable.”

Tarwater was thwarted when his parents noticed their weapons, including an AK-47, missing after Brandon left early for school one day, and LaDue was apprehended after an alert samaritan noticed LaDue engaged in suspicious activity at a neighboring storage locker.

Says PSS co-founder and retired FBI agent Pete Klismet, of the Texas incident, “The answer to preventing school violence lies not in armed teachers, police officers in every school or metal detectors. The true solution is intervention before an incident happens, and the parents of this young man are the true heroes in preventing a tragedy before it occurred.”

“The psychological frame of mind these shooters adopt is tragic, and avoidable,” observes PSS co-founder and psychologist Stephen Walker. “Not only have these students been disenfranchised socially from an environment they spend a huge amount of time in, but it seems they’ve lost any purposeful sense of engagement. Our ongoing study of this most alarming concern in our society is revealing a number of common threads which we have noted. Our goal is to identify who is at risk of becoming a shooter and develop means to short circuit the patterns (within the schools, families, and mental health concerns) that continue to fail, resulting in tragedy after tragedy in a pattern that seems unabated.”

Adds Katie Grosso, a volunteer with the organization, “The Texas incident was averted largely because of the quick reaction of the parents when they noticed their son was missing and then checked for missing weapons. Although not enough information has been released yet, it seems as though these parents knew something was up — otherwise why would they check the weapons? This demonstrates the validity of our approach and the importance of the information that we can collect by interviewing the shooter’s parents.”

The Preventing School Shootings group is currently conducting research with the goal of developing a profile of youth who are at risk to go down the path of becoming a school shooter (or stabber). With identification and intervention, tragedy can be averted, and these at-risk youth can get the help that they need before it’s too late.

For more information contact the Preventing School Shootings group at info at preventingschoolshootings.com