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School-Rampage Plans Foiled in Four States

Authorities in Pierce County, Wash., arrest a 16-year-old boy for allegedly plotting to shoot his high school classmates at random. The case is the latest in what seems to be a wave of similar incidents around the country this month. Police say they've discovered plots in Alaska, Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi -- and an earlier one in Pierce County.

In each case, authorities reacted to messages that the students sent to friends about their intentions to stage Columbine-style rampages in schools. Authorities say that there is a new sensitivity among school administrators and students about such threats.

In Pierce County, sheriff's deputies are being trained how to navigate Internet forums such as to find teenage talk of guns and bombs. The springtime discovery of gun plots may simply be the inevitable consequence of the extra vigilance, authorities say.

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Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.
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