Police: Thwarted Maryland School Shooter Referenced Columbine, Newtown Attacks in Her Diary

Nicole Cevario believed she would be the first female mass shooter

The female high school student who was planning to bomb her school and shoot students and teachers referenced the Columbine and Newtown attacks in her diary and believed she would be the first female mass shooter, police say.

Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins revealed new details on Tuesday about what investigators found in Nicole Cevario's diary. The 18-year-old was pulled out a classroom at Catoctin High School after her father read threats in the diary and contacted the school.

Cevario referenced the horrific school shootings in Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, Jenkins said. She focused on mistakes those shooters made, the sheriff said.

Also, she said she believed she would be the first female mass shooter. 

A 16-year-old girl opened fire at an elementary school in San Diego in 1979, and a woman was one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack in 2015, among other examples. 

Cevario stockpiled bomb-making materials and had a shotgun to attack Catoctin High on April 5, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said Monday. 

Police believe her diary entries were not empty threats, Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins said at a news conference Monday. 

"We felt this was going to be carried out. There is no doubt in our minds that we diverted a disaster up there," he said. 

Cevario "had the means and equipment to have caused a significant life safety event” at the school, police said in a statement. 

How the Investigation Unfolded
Police learned of Cevario's plot after her father read her diary and called the school on Thursday. Earlier, he found shotgun shells in her backpack, Jenkins said. He had noticed a change in her behavior. She already was seeing a counselor outside school.

Within hours of the father's phone call, the honor student was pulled out of a classroom and involuntarily taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation. 

Police searched Cevario's home in Thurmont, Maryland, and found weapons and the diary. In the home, police say they found a 12-gauge shotgun with ammunition and bomb-making materials including pipes with end caps, shrapnel, fireworks, magnesium tape and fuse material.

The gun and other items were purchased legally, police said. Cevario reportedly planned to saw off the shotgun.

What Cevario's Diary Said
Cevario's diary "spelled out a detailed shooting event that she planned to execute on a specific date in April," police said. 

Officials later said that date was April 5. It was not immediately clear whether that date had any significance. 

The diary showed the high schooler, who had been taking college classes in criminal justice and working at a carryout restaurant, had been planning the attack for some time, police said. She expressed frustrations about her personal life and compiled information on the school's emergency procedures and the school resource deputy on duty. 

"The journal was very detailed, including a time line that revealed how she was going to execute the plot, and her expectations at each stage of the event," police said. 

The sheriff said in an update Tuesday that Cevario named one male classmate and two female classmates in the diary. All three people were friends. Police believe they were neither targets nor accomplices, but did not release additional information. 

Investigators believe she had a second diary they cannot find.

What's Next
Officials say Cevario acted alone and never took a weapon or explosive device to the school. It was clear she had mental health issues, the sheriff's office said. 

"Obviously, this was a student who needed some intervention and some help, and I think the silver lining is she's going to get the help she needs now," Frederick County Public Schools spokesman Michael Doerrer said.  

Once Cevario is released from the hospital, she will be charged with possession of explosive and incendiary material with intent to create a destructive device. 

Law enforcement and school officials said they had no sign Cevario had any problem.

Life at Catoctin High was returning to normal Tuesday.

"It's crazy to think that this could be happening in such a small community," one student said. "I feel like you know the people at your high school, but really you might not."

Anyone with information for police is asked to call 301-600-2583. 

How to Tell If Your Child Needs Help
Dr. Mary Alvord, a psychologist, said parents should watch for dramatic changes in their children's behavior. Note if children or teens suddenly withdraw from friends, hole up in their rooms for hours or fail to come home, she said. Changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, or increased irritability also can be signs something is wrong. 

"We're really looking for patterns of change," Alvord said.

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