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High school shooting plot foiled in Northern California, authorities say

A day before a gunman in Oregon killed eight classmates and his college writing teacher, Tuolumne County sheriff's detectives foiled a plot by students to go on a shooting rampage at their high school near Yosemite National Park, authorities said.

The Summerville Union High School students, all male, had detailed plans that “included names of would-be victims, locations, methods in which the plan was to be carried out,” Sheriff Jim Mele told reporters at a news conference Saturday. The targets included other students and faculty members. 

The boys confessed, Mele said, according to the Modesto Bee and KCRA-TV Channel 3. Three were arrested Wednesday and a fourth detained Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit assault with deadly weapons, a statement provided by the sheriff’s office said.

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“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible at the campus,” Mele told the Bee.

The suspects were overheard by other students talking about their plans. Detectives later found evidence that the suspects planned to act during an upcoming campus event, the news organizations reported.

“Students noticed suspicious activity, and … they felt uneasy enough to go to staff,” the sheriff said in televised remarks.

The names of the suspects were not released because they are juveniles.

No weapons were found by detectives, but the students were planning to obtain them, the news organizations reported. No specific motive was disclosed.

The high school serves students in Tuolumne, about three hours east of San Francisco.

With a population of fewer than 2,000 people, Tuolumne's heyday was during the Gold Rush era, and it later became known for logging operations. Tuolumne is now home to the Black Oak Casino, operated by the Tuolumne band of Me-Wuk Indians, a federally recognized tribe.

There have been several attacks on and around school campuses in California in recent years.

In 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, a Santa Barbara City College student, went on a killing rampage that left six UC Santa Barbara students dead. Rodger then shot himself inside his car after exchanging gunfire with deputies.

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A year earlier, John Zawahri, 23, killed five people in a shooting rampage through Santa Monica that ended at Santa Monica College campus. Zawahri was killed by police.

And in 2012, One L. Goh, 43, fatally shot seven people at a small nursing vocational school in Oakland. Goh surrendered to police.

Follow me on Twitter: @ronlin

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