BURLINGTON, Vt. – 18-year-old Jack Sawyer walked into Rutland court in camo and handcuffs Friday afternoon, charged with plotting to carry out a mass shooting at his former high school.
Chief Bill Humphries with the Fair Haven Police Department said, “There’s been 18 school shootings since January 1. And you always think in my career like, this is Fair Haven. It’s not going to happen here.”
Chief Bill Humphries said they were first alerted to the threat Wednesday. Someone told police that Monday, they heard sawyer was acting strangely and had made threats against Fair Haven Union High School. Then, police were told sawyer had bought a shotgun at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland, along with ammo. But when police spoke to him on Wednesday, he told them it was for target practice and he said he hadn’t made any threats against the school in the past two years.
Chief Humpries said, “We had found no probable cause to make an arrest.”
But that changed the next day when a juvenile from New York alerted police to disturbing text messages from Sawyer, reading in part, “Just a few days ago I was still plotting on shooting up my old high school.” And then, in response to the school shooting in Florida: “That’s fantastic. I 100% support it… I think the human population sucks so I like to hear about cases of natural selection… It’s just natural selection taken up a notch.”
Chief Bill Humphries said, “This is a classic example of the person who came forward, from out of state, is the true hero out of this because they put aside everything else to say, ‘I think there’s a problem.’ And based on that, it allowed law enforcement to intervene and avert a potential disaster.”
During an interview with police, Sawyer allegedly confessed to his plot. He told them he’d gone to the high school for his freshman and part of his sophomore year before running away and eventually being sent away for mental health treatment in Maine.
He also allegedly told police he was obsessed with the Columbine High School Shootings and had researched them extensively. And police say he told them he bought the shotgun recently, as part of his plot to shoot up Fair Haven High School. Sawyer allegedly told police he planned to take out the school resource officer first and then use an AR-15 and other guns to kill as many students as he could before taking his own life. He allegedly told police he wasn’t sure when he was going to carry out the plan but he would no matter what.
Chief Humphries stated, “We have to go forward with our lives and just be strong, be vigilant and alert, and realize that things happen in a small town.”
Sawyer faces charges of aggravated attempted murder, attempted first-degree murder and attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
He pleaded not guilty Friday in court and is being held without bail until an evidence hearing later this month.