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.