A 13-year-old boy who fatally shot himself in a middle school bathroom last week had plans to commit a school shooting but appeared to change his mind and took his own life, police said at a Thursday press conference.
On the morning of Feb. 20, just before classes, Keith Simons exited a bathroom at Jackson Middle School holding a .22-caliber gun. He then abruptly went back into the restroom and shot himself in the head, Jackson Township police said at the press conference.
Simons had brought to school a semi-automatic rifle under his jacket and a bag full of extra ammunition, bottle rockets and batteries, police said at the press conference.
Messages found by investigators on his cellphone show that Simons had been planning the attack for at least a week, Chief Mark Brink said.
It also appeared that the teen admired the two Columbine High School students who committed the April 20, 1999 school shooting.
“I’d hurt and destroy something bigger but my schools an easy target,” Simons wrote in a message found on his phone.
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Security cameras captured the moments before the shooting, Brink said.
Another student who was in the bathroom saw Simons with the gun and ran out of the bathroom to tell teachers, Brink said. When Simons left the bathroom holding the gun there were four students nearby, the security footage shows. He then went back in the bathroom.
“We should thank God every day, whatever made him change his mind,” Brink said.
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Simons was taken to a local hospital, where he died the following day. No other students were injured.
Police believe no one else knew of the planned attack, Brink said. The investigation is ongoing.