Lee County parents petition to keep 2 accused of plotting shooting out of schools

Published: September 16, 2021 6:38 PM EDT

Some people are pushing to keep two kids accused of plotting a shooting massacre out of school.

Thousands have signed a petition to bar 13-year-old Conner Pruett and 14-year-old Phillip Byrd from the classroom after they used Columbine as their inspiration for a plan and planned to act on it.

The two teens may be out of sight and away from Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, but the impact of what they planned to do and who they planned to hurt is still felt by parents.

“My daughter is terrified to go back to school,” said Jennifer Gagnon, a Harns Marsh parent. “I mean, if it was up to me, she would be staying home, but you know, we have to send her because, if not, then, she’s gonna fall behind.”

“The only thing that was really going through my mind is what if my child was in that school?” said Tiffany Major, the Lee County Schools parent who began the petition.

Major’s children don’t go to Harns Marsh, but she worries about where Pruett and Byrd might end up after their time in jail.

“I’m protecting my kids because it was mentioned that the child, the parents said they’re going to change the child’s school,” Major said. “How do we know as parents that that school won’t be our school, where our children are at?”

Major started the petition to bar the teens from all public schools. It has over 2,000 signatures, many from parents such as Gagnon.

“I don’t want to see them getting a slap on the wrist,” Gagnon said. “That’s for dang sure.”

Attorney Michael Raheb, who practices criminal defense, told us the kids’ punishment will depend on whether the case stays in juvenile court or moves to adult court.

“I’m sure their parents and their defense attorneys are hoping they don’t direct file,” Raheb said. “Florida happens to be one of the leading states in the country for direct filing, which means treating juveniles as an adult.”