LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The parents of one of the two teenage boys accused of plotting a massacre at his middle school told NewsNation exclusively they dispute the allegations against their son.
Two boys — 13 and 14 years old — were cuffed and booked after investigators say they planned a mass shooting at Harns Marsh Middle School in southwest Florida. The 14-year-old’s mom says she is in shock over the accusations.
“I went hysterical,” Carrie Tuller told NewsNation. “I just never thought to see my son in handcuffs. It was just devastating. Yesterday was the hardest thing ever.”
Lee County detectives say the boys had a meticulous plan and were inspired by the Columbine shooting. Police reports say they had a map of the school with surveillance cameras marked, and other locations marked where the shootings would take place.
Deputies say they found guns and a collection of knives inside the 14-year-old’s bedroom. His family insists the teen is not dangerous.
“The rifle they took out of here. It wasn’t a rifle. It was a BB gun,” the boy’s father, Christopher Tuller, told NewsNation.
“He wouldn’t use them to hurt anyone,” Carrie Tuller said. “They made it sound really bad.”
His parents say there’s no way they are wrong about their son. “He’s a good kid,” Christopher Tuller said.
But the sheriff says the boys were “one second” away from a school shooting.
“This plan was coming together,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said. “And at any time at the press of a button, God forbid, we could be sitting here talking about a mass shooting.”
Investigators say the boys approached other kids and asked them if they wanted to take part. Police believe they even had Zoom meetings about their plan.
“I feel like it was just talk — an attention kind of thing,” Carrie Tuller said, but she added a shooting would have been devastating.
“I see the concern. That is why I can say I’m grateful nothing did happen because I get it.”
The boys will be held for 21 days and undergo mental health evaluations. The Tullers say they hope to get their son out on bond after that.