HIGH POINT, N.C. (CBS/AP) — A 19-year-old from Boston allegedly told police that he was plotting a school shooting at High Point University in North Carolina. Freshman Paul A. Steber is charged with two felony counts of having weapons on campus and communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
The university told the police department on Tuesday that its security officers knew of a student who had two guns and ammunition in his dorm room. Police officers responded, seizing the firearms and arresting Steber.
According to court documents, Steber told police in an interview he planned on “shooting up” the campus. An officer wrote that Steber had a “plan and timeline to kill people.”
Steber had been watching videos to learn how to carry out a mass shooting, Assistant District Attorney Lori Wickline said in court.
“He told officers that he definitely had a plan, something that he had been thinking about since Christmas of last year,” she said.
She later added: “And he had been recently watching videos of the Charleston mass shooting down in South Carolina and other mass shootings so that he could learn what to do and what not to do.”
He’s being held in jail on a $2 million bond. Documents stated that he lived on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay.
“This incident illustrates the importance of the public reporting suspicious activity to authorities,” High Point police said in a statement. “Information from the public is often the critical first step in preventing acts of mass violence.”
The university is praising the students who alerted security that Steber had guns. Classes for the fall semester began on August 20.
Steber had bought the guns within the past week and planned to shoot himself and his roommate if Steber didn’t get into a fraternity and the roommate did, Wickline said. She said it wasn’t clear if he bought the guns legally.
Martin Lentz attended the Newman School, a private school in Boston’s Back Bay, with Steber. He said the news of Steber’s arrest “didn’t surprise me in the slightest” He said there were warning signs that Steber could be dangerous.
“Basically every single day during class, all he did was look up the NRA, look up guns, politicians. He would look up politicians both Democratic and Republican and just stare at them,” said Lentz.
Newman School headmaster Harry Lynch issued a statement following Steber’s arrest.
“We are of course very sad to see these media reports from North Carolina, which come as a complete surprise to us. Beyond that, we would not, as a matter of school policy, comment publicly about current or former students,” Lynch said.
Steber’s father, who came down from Massachusetts, sat in court for the brief hearing where Steber appeared via video link.
“This is any parent’s worst nightmare,” defense attorney John Bryson said in court. “He’s obviously very concerned about his son.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)