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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

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Summit teens' plot called 'really scary'

News is no surprise to a Columbine survivor and mom

By Jennifer Dobner
Deseret Morning News

      Two Summit County teens appear to have mapped out a rudimentary tactical plan for carrying out an assault on students and staff at their South Summit High School, according to new information found over the weekend by police.
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Donna Taylor
      Informants also have told police the pair talked about taking their victims "out into the desert to kill them," and at least one boy is now known to have been trying to obtain the necessary firearms, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said Monday.
      "Thursday and Friday last week I was reasonably sure there was going to be some kind of violence. . . . Right now, I'm about 100 percent sure," Edmunds said. "I think it's really scary."
      Detectives discovered a detailed school map with specific entrances and exits highlighted among the hundreds of documents taken from the lockers of the two 15-year-old boys last week. The confiscated writings and drawings, which were found as police and school officials searched lockers for drugs, included graphic images of violence and sex acts, some also inscribed with the names of specific victims.
      Information about attempts to purchase firearms was obtained through several student witnesses who approached police after the boys were arrested last Wednesday, Edmunds said.
      The news from Summit County is chilling but not surprising to Donna Taylor and her son, Mark, who was shot and wounded at Colorado's Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The Taylors are in Salt Lake, a stopover point for a series of lectures Mark Taylor is doing in Western states.
      "Every time I hear about one of these, it's like living it all over again," Donna Taylor said. "You can't imagine how upsetting it is."
      Columbine remains the most deadly school shooting in U.S. history. Thirteen died and more than 20 were wounded. Mark Taylor suffered seven gunshot wounds.
      Now he tours the country talking about his experience and lecturing about the dangers of the anti-depressant drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), which he believes are the underlying cause of what happened that April day.
      Reports from the Columbine investigation indicate that shooter Eric Harris was taking the SSRI drug Luvox. Records of the other shooter, Dylan Klebold, have not been made public, although he was reportedly taking an herbal supplement recommended to combat depression, according to news reports.
      "I don't blame the two killers for what they did; when you take these pills, you don't know what you are doing," said Mark Taylor, who sued Solvay Pharmaceutical after the shooting. "It was the pills."
      West Jordan bio-psychologist Ann Blake Tracy, with whom the Taylors make appearances, has researched SSRI drugs for 15 years. She said brain research shows they can leave some in a seizure- or dream-like state, rendering them unable to remember their actions. An author, Tracy often testifies in court cases and before the FDA, and she runs the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, http://www.drugawareness.org/, an online clearing house for information about adverse reactions to prescription drugs.
      Research, study and real-life incidents from shootings and suicides across the country support the belief that the drugs can do more harm than good, she said. And yet, the drugs continue to be prescribed and sold to millions.
      "I heard the (Summit County) story on the radio, and my first reaction was, 'I can't believe it's happening again,' " she said. "It's like an unreal nightmare, and nobody can see the picture."
      Edmunds said he does not know if either of the South Summit students had been or is taking anti-depressants or was under the care of a physician or mental health care professional.
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Mark Taylor

Jeremy Harmon, Deseret Morning News
      "We'll be looking at it," he said. "But the detectives are still gathering evidence, and we just haven't gotten there yet."
      In conversations with detectives so far, neither boy has mentioned the drugs, nor have they mentioned any kind of relationships at school, such as teasing or harassment, that might have triggered violent behaviors, Edmunds said.
      "Right now, they're both pretty much in full-blown denial mode that they are angry about anything," Edmunds said, adding he believes the behavior of the two students is "more pervasive than people realize."
      Both boys are suspended from school and have been in the custody of their parents. But Edmunds said Monday that based on the newly discovered, more specific threat information, the pair would be re-arrested and booked into a Salt Lake County juvenile detention facility.
      He also said he expects new information about the case to continue to dribble in, even though the school year ends at South Summit on Friday.


E-mail: jdobner@desnews.com      



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