How teen helped thwart apparent school shooting plot

A teenager in Vermont is accused of planning an attack on his former high school after a friend reported him to police in New York state. Jack Sawyer pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempted murder. He allegedly told the friend he was targeting the high school in Fair Haven, Vermont, that Sawyer once attended.

The investigation involved agencies both in New York and Vermont but would not have been possible if not for the brave 17-year-old who told authorities her friend might be planning a deadly attack. 

“I texted him saying a school just got shot up and he answered saying, ‘That’s fantastic, I 100 percent support it,” Angela McDevitt told CBS News’ Meg Oliver. 

McDevitt says she met Sawyer while at a treatment center in Maine for troubled teens. “It always struck me he was very attentive to detail and very kind,” she said of Sawyer.

McDevitt says she stayed in touch with him after they left the facility, but last week, their friendship took a turn. According to a Vermont State Police affidavit, on February 11, Sawyer wrote to McDevitt over Facebook Messenger saying: “Just a few days ago I was still plotting on shooting up my old high school.” The next day he wrote, “It’s been the plan for like 2 years.” And on February 14, he allegedly praised the Florida school shooting, writing: “it’s just natural selection taken up a notch.”

Text messages allegedly sent by Jack Sawyer to Angela McDevitt.

CBS News

One day after the Florida shooting, McDevitt met with her New York high school resource officer, Evan Traudt, who then contacted authorities in Vermont.

“I found (what I was told) disturbing and knew I had to contact somebody in Vermont to look further into it,” Traudt said. “I followed through with it and that’s about it. She definitely is the one who did the most of it.”

According to the affidavit, when police interviewed Sawyer, he admitted he was planning a shooting at Fair Haven Union High School, and was partly inspired by the Columbine massacre. He bought a shotgun a few days before. Police say when they searched his car, they found the shotgun, ammunition, books on Columbine, a gas mask, a video recorder and a journal detailing his plan, titled “The journal of an active shooter.” Police say Sawyer told them he was going to use an AR-15, a handgun and his shotgun to carry out the attack.

McDevitt says it wasn’t easy to report Sawyer, but she’s glad she did.

“It’s not the matter of friendship if it’s about lives at hand. It’s — you need to do what you need to do,” she said.

According to the affidavit, Sawyer has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Sawyer’s public defender said there are a lot of unproven allegations in this case and it’s a lot different than initially portrayed.

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