The 13-year-old Ohio boy who fatally shot himself in a middle school bathroom last week had plans to carry out a school shooting but instead changed his mind and took his own life, police say.
Just before classes began on Feb. 20, security camera footage showed Keith Simons exiting a bathroom at Jackson Middle School holding a .22-caliber gun. He then abruptly went back into the bathroom and shot himself in the head, Jackson Township police said at a Thursday press conference.
Police also said that Simons had brought a semi-automatic rifle under his jacket and a bag full of extra ammunition, bottle rockets and batteries.
An earlier report detailed that Simons brought a "distraction device" in his backpack. Police said it was not an explosive, but at the time would not describe the device in detail.
Investigators reportedly found messages on his cellphone that show he 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.
Brink said another student who was in the bathroom saw Simons with the gun and ran out of the bathroom to tell teachers. When Simons left the restroom holding the gun, there were four students nearby, security footage shows. He then went back into the bathroom.
"We should thank God every day, whatever made him change his mind," Brink said.
All schools in Jackson Township went into lockdown mode after the seventh grader shot himself.
Parents rushed to the school to take their children home when administrators sent out an alert about the shooting. The school has about 1,400 students. Some parents waited hours until all the students were cleared to leave.
"That Florida shooting just happened, and you keep thinking about your kid," Daniela Biller told Cincinnati.com. Biller has three students at the school.
"They wouldn't tell us what was going on. I thought there was a school shooting. There was a lot of waiting," eighth-grader Alex Garcia told The Independent. "I didn't have any idea there was someone with a gun until I was released."