A student is expected to be charged.
Frederick, Md (KM). A tragic event at Catoctin High School has been averted. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins says an 18-year-old student, identified as Nicole Cevario of Thurmont, was removed from the school last week after authorities got word that she was planning a mass shooting at the school.
“Our investigators moved very quickly to determine that removing her from the school, acting on the information they had, eliminated any ongoing threat to the school or the student body,” he said. “So basically, taking her out of the school at that point eliminated every threat we knew going forward.”
Sheriff Jenkins says no one else is involved in this plot to shoot up the school.
Cevario’s father heard possible violence at Catoctin High, and notified school officials who contacted authorities. Sheriff Jenkins says investigators leaned that she was actively involved in securing items to carry out this shooting. During a search of her home, detectives found a shotgun with ammunition, bomb making materials, including pipes with end caps, shrapnel, fireworks, magnesium tape and fuse material.
“It was also clear in her diary that she planned to die in this event,” says Sheriff Jenkins. “It’s very clear to us that she had the means, the materials to cause significant damage to herself, to the student body, to the facility up there at Catoctin High School. It’s also very clear that she was struggling with a lot of mental health issues.”
After she was removed from the school, Cevario was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital for an emergency evaluation. She remains there at present, according to the Sheriff. When she’s released, she will be served with an arrest warrant, charging her with possession of explosive material with intent to create a destructive device, and possession of incendiary material with intent to create a destructive device, according to authorities.
He also said Cevario was determined to carry out her plans. “I feel based on what I’ve read, and my investigators concluded the same thing, that this thing was going to be carried out. There is no doubt in our minds that we averted a disaster up there. I’ve never seen anything like this, to be honest with you,” says Jenkins.
“The other thing we also learned she had been compiling intelligence and information on security, coming and going of the school resource officer, the emergency procedures and other drills conducted by school staff,” Sheriff Jenkins said.
School system spokesman Michael Doerrer says it’s rather shocking to find that something like this was happening in a Frederick County public school. “Especially in Thurmont, which is such a tight knit and wonderful community,” he says. “But the one thing I keep coming back to is that because of the communication and trust that we have in that community, that’s why we were able to deal with the situation before anything happened.”
In her comments, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Theresa Alban gave credit to those who came forward to school officials with information. “Whenever you hear or see anything that raises concern, you need to trust us and come to us so that we can do the right thing, and handle it just like we did in this case,” she said.
In a letter sent out to the school community, Catoctin High Principal Bernie Quesada said the school and law enforcement took action immediately to remove the student from the campus. “I again want to assure you that no one at our school was harmed and no individual was directly threatened, and there were no weapons or other dangerous materials at the school,” he said in the letter.
Quesada said the school staff works very hard to keep Catoctin High safe, and continue to do so.
He said school counselors are available for any student who needs someone to talk to about this incident. And, school officials say, administrators, faculty and staff can express their concerns about safety at any time by calling the school office at 240-236-8100.
By Kevin McManus
Photos courtesy of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office