Boom Swallen, 15, immediately raised the alarm when one of his classmates revealed to him an elaborate plan to carry out a mass shooting at their school. The would-be shooter, a minor identified only by his initials A.B., had a gun, a hit list of at least eight students and one teacher, and “every intention” of pulling the trigger at school, according to authorities.
Swallen called his father and alerted police to the threat, even though the shooter threatened to kill him if he did. Thanks to Swallen’s tip, police uncovered a “credible plot to harm students and staff” and apprehended the suspect, Mariemont High School told families in an announcement.
Zach Swallen said his son acted bravely “despite a threat against his life if he told anyone.”
“It was told to my son that if he disclosed anything about the plan to anybody, he would be shot and killed,” Swallen recounted during a televised interview with a local station. “But my son literally told me he didn’t care if he got killed as long as he could protect his classmates.”
The thwarted shooter was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, Hamilton County prosecutor Melissa Powers announced on Thursday. Investigators discovered that A.B. was communicating with an adult with a Colorado area code to plan the shooting and carry it out together. In a press conference, Powers revealed several text messages in which the conspirators described wanting to kill and rape the victims and planned which firearms and gear they would need.
“Children should not fear coming to school. Teachers should not fear that their students will cause harm to them or their classmates,” Powers said in a statement.
Prosecutors want to try A.B., who is 14 years old, as an adult.
Mariemont City Schools Superintendent Steven Estepp commented on the disheartening reality of school shooting threats and expressed his thanks toward the Swallens for their vigilance.
“It’s a stark reminder that threats of violence remain a serious concern for schools and educators,” Estepp said, adding that the investigation was ongoing and involved both local police and the FBI. “Mariemont City Schools has every intention of seeking the most stringent protections and consequences for this student’s actions,” he added.
“I am incredibly thankful that we can say that this was a plot thwarted and a tragedy avoided because of the proactive measures by a student and parent to report their concern,” he said.