A student from an Ohio middle school who apparently sought to unleash a mass shooting on his classmates, made a fateful last moment change that likely spared countless lives.
But the story still has a tragic ending, as 13-year-old Keith Simons instead decided to turn the gun on himself and take his own life.
Simons emerged from the bathroom holding a semi-automatic rifle just before classes were set to begin for the day. He then dashed back inside and shot himself in the head, according to Jackson Township Police Chief Mark Brink.
“We should thank God every day, whatever made him change his mind,” Brink said, adding that it is likely the police will never know why the boy had a sudden change of heart. Investigators discovered a series of messages on his cellphone that indicated the teen had been planning an shooting attack for at least a week at Jackson Middle School, near Massillon.
The teen also expressed admiration for the shooters in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, according to Fox 13.
“I’d hurt and destroy something bigger but my schools an easy target,” Simons wrote in one message found on his cellphone. “I want to leave a lasting impression on the world,” he added in another message written just days before he took the.22-caliber gun to his school on Feb. 20. “I’m going to die doing it.”
“….this will be bigger than anything this country’s ever seen… I’ve been planning this for a few weeks and thought about it a few months, I will never be forgotten I’ll be a stain in American history and the Simons history, it’s going to be so much fun,” he continued. “They won’t expect a thing.”
Messages also reveal that the boy began planning the attack on the same day that the Florida high school shooting took place. Police detailed how Simons rode a bus to school and concealed the gun under his clothes. He also took a backpack with extra ammunition, bottle rockets and batteries. When he arrived at the school, he immediately headed for the restroom. Surveillance footage showed Simons exiting the bathroom into the hallway, where there were four students standing, before deciding to retreat back into the restroom.
Another student in the restroom spotted the weapon and ran out to tell school officials. Shortly after this, Simons shot himself. He died a day later, with the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office ruling the death a suicide.
The First Christian Church of Massillon, Ohio claimed the boy’s mother was part of their community, as reported by Heavy.com. “Misty and Tommy have been active in ministry at FCC for over a year. We’ve come to know and love them. Please continue to keep them and their family in your prayers,” the post said of Keith’s mother and her fiancee.
“We need to come together and we need to find solutions,” Brink added. “Not try to point fingers, not try to find fault. We all have a responsibility in this. We all have something that we can do to make our schools safer and make our community safer. We need to do that.”