Two teen students have been arrested after reportedly "plotting to carry out a mass shooting after studying 1999 Columbine High School massacre".
Phillip Bird, 14, and Connor Pruitt, 13, were arrested on Thursday facing charges of conspiracy to commit a mass shooting.
The two Florida students were exposed when a student tipped off a teacher that one of their classmates had a gun in their book bag.
A rapid investigation was launched by deputies.
Officers did not find any weapon in the students' book bag but they did find a map of the school with markings showing the locations of every security camera at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said police also discovered 'disturbing evidence' upon a search of both their homes, including a gun and multiple knives.
In a news conference, Sheriff Marceno said: "Detectives learned the students took an interest in the Columbine High School shooting.
"They were extensively studying to learn more about the incident and the shooters.
"Detectives also learned the students were attempting to learn how to construct pipe bombs and how to purchase firearms on the black market."
The horrific Columbine High School massacre took place on April 20, 1999, in Columbine, Colorado.
Students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, aged 18 and 17, brutally murdered 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide.
It was the deadliest mass shooting at a US high school until 2018 when 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
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Sherrif Marceno said: "This could have turned disastrous. We were one second away from a Columbine here."
He continued: "I'm certain that my team of dedicated deputies and detectives acted promptly, investigated thoroughly, and prevented a very violent and dangerous act from being carried out.
"This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages."
The two Florida teens were reportedly "well-known" to police deputies and had responded to calls to their homes nearly 80 times combined.
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They will be charged with conspiracy to commit a mass shooting and are currently being evaluated at a mental health facility, MailOnline reports.
Superintendent Dr. Ken Savage thanked Sherrif Marceno and his team for their "quick response and actions to protect our students and staff".
"As soon as students reported the potential threat, the teacher notified administrators, who immediately brought in the school resource officer," he said.
"Together they emptied the classroom and investigated. Students were safe at all times."
He added: "I commend the students who came forward to report the potential threat and the quick action by our staff and SROs to prevent harm to our campus."
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