EVERETT — A rubber Donald Trump mask found in the bedroom of a would-be school shooter led Everett police to solve a robbery involving a military-style rifle, according to reports filed in court Wednesday.
Police believe the gas station holdup was supposed to pay for an arsenal of guns and explosives, in a complex plot to shoot and bomb students at ACES High School.
Detectives were investigating if Marquez Daniel, 18, knew of Joshua Alexander O’Connor’s alleged plan for shooting up the alternative high school in south Everett. Daniel and O’Connor were classmates. Both were in jail this week.
Two masked robbers barged into a convenience store on the night of Feb. 12, on Casino Road. One carried a rifle covered by a sweatshirt, and he aimed the barrel at the clerk’s face. Security footage showed the gun sight had been set abnormally high, police wrote. The gunman wore a green-and-black jacket and a mask that bore the likeness of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator.
The robber in the Trump mask looked 3 to 5 inches taller, with “very square” shoulders, according to court papers. He collected about $100 cash before escaping.
That night O’Connor, 18, returned home, opened his red spiral notebook and wrote an entry in his journal dated Feb. 12, according to court papers.
“I just (expletive) robbed an AM/PM gas station at gunpoint!” he wrote. “It was exhilarating; I’m listening to a police scanner right now of Everett PD. Looks like my friend and I got away with it.”
O’Connor wrote that he felt powerful as he aimed the gun at the cashier, court papers say. He didn’t name his friend.
O’Connor’s grandmother noticed that night he’d come home without his green-and-black jacket on. He was carrying a guitar case. He said the jacket was in the case. She opened it later, and found a Hi Point carbine inside. She was shocked. She didn’t know O’Connor had a rifle.
She secretly read her grandson’s journal entries, and found step-by-step plans to kill his classmates. He’d picked a date in late April, around the anniversary of the mass murder at Columbine High School in 1999. He’d picked out the Hi Point carbine, he wrote, because one of the Columbine shooters used the same kind. The rifle was bought legally, special-ordered through West Coast Armory, court records say.
O’Connor had been practicing his aim on paper targets, according to police. On some he wrote “Redrum,” which police noted is murder written backward.
“My plan is to save up more money,” he wrote, so that he could pay for a shotgun, CO2 bombs and pipe bombs.
O’Connor’s grandmother called 911 on Feb. 13. Police pulled him from class to arrest him that morning. He’s charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery and felony assault.
The rubber masks were found in a shoe box in his room, near inert grenades, the gun and the journal.
It was DNA from the masks that reportedly led police to Daniel. A crime lab found samples from the Kim Jong Un mask were a match for O’Connor; samples from the Trump mask — worn by the taller robber — matched DNA of Daniel, a senior at ACES.
Daniel stands 6-foot-1, court records say. O’Connor is 2 inches shorter. Police declined to say how they obtained Daniel’s DNA.
Detectives took him into custody Tuesday. He asked to speak with an attorney and declined to talk with police. Detectives told him he was under arrest for first-degree robbery. Daniel, of the Lynnwood area, had one felony on his record for second-degree theft, deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf said in court Wednesday.
A public defender, Pooja Vaddadi, told the court that Daniel hoped to post bond, so he could return to school and graduate as planned in June.
Judge Anthony Howard set bail at $50,000. So far, police say they haven’t found evidence to show Daniel knew of his friend’s school shooting plans.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.