EVERETT — A former student accused of a thwarted school shooting plot allegedly tried to recruit a fellow Snohomish County Jail inmate to attack local schools.
The allegations appear in court papers charging first-degree assault against the former cellmate of Joshua O’Connor. Police and prosecutors say O’Connor had taken substantial steps with plans to shoot classmates at ACES High School in south Everett.
Travis L. Hammons, 29, is accused of beating the inmate O’Connor allegedly tried to recruit, according to court papers. The victim was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett after suffering a broken nose, swollen eye and bleeding on the brain during an assault in a jail recreation room May 2.
The injured man told a sheriff’s deputy that he’d grown concerned about O’Connor’s intentions, so he’d told an attorney about the recruitment pitch. He believes O’Connor figured out that his second plot had been revealed.
He told the deputy that O’Connor had gone over plans to assemble pressure cookers into makeshift explosives to bomb Kamiak High School, a campus O’Connor had attended before enrolling at ACES, an alternative high school. The inmate also said O’Connor talked to him about driving by Mariner High School and shooting students from the road, according to court papers.
O’Connor is charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and illegal possession of an explosive device. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled for September. He remains locked up, his bail set at $5 million.
The new allegations against O’Connor have been referred to Everett police.
Prosecutors allege that before his arrest, O’Connor did more than muse about attacking classmates. They point to a journal he kept that reportedly details plans for staging a school attack modeled largely on the 1999 killings at Columbine High School.
O’Connor reportedly purchased a Hi-Point 9mm carbine rifle, a style of weapon used by the Columbine shooters. He also spent a day at his high school in January costumed as mass murderer Eric Harris. That was part of his final assignment in an acting class, court papers say.
O’Connor was arrested after his grandmother, 68, contacted police to report she’d found entries in his journal detailing plans to kill classmates. Her search of his room at their home also turned up the military-style rifle in a guitar case and apparent explosives.
The journal reportedly recounts O’Connor picking the date for the attack and describing plans to shoot, stab, burn and bomb classmates.
The inmate who was beaten May 2 told authorities he became friends with O’Connor in the jail.
He said he’d been invited to O’Connor’s cell for coffee the day he was beaten.
“He got a strange feeling and did not go inside,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Jarett Goodkin wrote in court papers.
When he walked downstairs, one inmate asked him if he was going to testify against O’Connor.
After that, Hammons attacked him, according to court papers.
A detective watched surveillance video of the assault.
“O’Connor steps aside while Hammons continually punches and kicks” the victim, the deputy prosecutor wrote in charging papers.
One witness said O’Connor “was standing nearby and did nothing to stop the assault.”
Hammons allegedly beat the inmate for 57 seconds, slamming his head into a wall three times and kicking and punching him. After another inmate intervened, he attacked a second time for 16 seconds before a corrections officer arrived, court papers said.
The injured man reported that he lost consciousness. As he was waking up, he said he heard one inmate tell Hammons that he should stop because “you’re going to kill him.”
“Good,” the victim allegedly heard Hammons say. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Hammons, O’Connor and the injured inmate all have been moved to separate housing areas within the jail, said Shari Ireton, sheriff’s office spokeswoman.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.