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Ryerson student thwarts potential school shooting in Arizona


ANDREW LIVINGSTONE/TORONTO STAR Alex Haney is credited with alerting police to a 16-year-old Arizonan’s disturbing post suggesting she planned to shoot up her high school in Mesa, Ariz.

A Ryerson University student is being hailed as a hero after thwarting what could have been another Newtown massacre.

A 16-year-old girl was arrested late Wednesday after Toronto police alerted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office in Mesa, Ariz., of a disturbing message she posted on a YouTube channel.

Alex Haney, a fine arts student at Ryerson who operates the Transgender community channel, discovered the post Wednesday morning and alerted Toronto police to it.

When contacted by the Star, a modest Haney declined to speak to any more media about the incident.

“All I did was tell police about an email,” he wrote in an email. “I just don’t want to sensationalize this any more.”

Haney, who uses the channel to document his life as a transgender youth, told CBC News he believed the comment was from a male at first.

“He was thinking of plans in his head for how to carry out hurting people in his school, and that it would have been easy to bomb the place, but he just didn’t have the stuff for a bomb,” Haney said, describing the post’s content.

The post said, in part: “I now literally have a plan of seriously hurting … killingmurdering people in my high school … I WORK at the high school as a student teacher basically … which is why no one can find out about me somewhat accidentally planning to blow up the school …”

The post also said it would be “super easy” to do.

Haney, 25, contacted police after hearing that a fellow blogger in California got the same message, according to ABC15 in Arizona.

“My reaction was: This person needs help,” Haney told ABC15.

In a news conference Thursday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Toronto police acted swiftly to find out where the message originated.

Within hours of contacting the sheriff’s office, deputies arrested the girl, a student and teacher assistant at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.

Arpaio said the girl admitted the plan to “hurt, kill, murder people in her high school” was not something concocted after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

The girl’s parents told police she had recently been asking where guns were kept in the house, police said.

“She said she’s thought about killing for a while,” Arpaio said. “She had planned to cut security wires at the school and shoot people from the other side of the high school fence.”

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, claimed the lives of 20 young students and six adults.

“She said that she planned an attack well in advance of Friday’s shooting that occurred in Connecticut,” Arpaio told reporters. “She said she’s thought about killing for a while.”

Arpaio said the girl, whose parents said had been struggling with mental illness and seeing a psychiatrist, knew the high school facilities well. Police were lucky to have gotten the tip when they did, he said.

“If this went along without any detection, who knows, two years from now, one year from now, what would snap in that young person’s mind,” he said. “It almost meets the profile of what happened in Connecticut.” – News