Son wouldn't kill anyone, mother says

Last updated 12:40 24/12/2012

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An Oklahoma teen accused of plotting to attack his high school showed symptoms of possible mental illness and had been seeing a therapist, but did not seriously plan violence, his mother said.

Jessie Chavez told the Tulsa World that her 18-year-old son, Sammie Eaglebear Chavez, sent her a text message two days before his Dec. 14 arrest saying he wanted to "shoot up" Bartlesville High School because he thought students were talking about him behind his back.

She said she showed the message to their therapists but had not decided whether to take further action by the time of her son's arrest.

"Deep down, I don't think my son would have done this," she told the newspaper. "That's not my son. My son laughs and makes jokes. He's always pulling pranks."

Sammie Chavez's arrest came hours before 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school. Lanza also killed his mother and himself.

Sammie Chavez was being held on US$1 million bond on Sunday (local time) in the Washington County Jail on a charge of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm or death to other students.

An officer with the Washington County Sheriff's Office told The Associated Press he didn't know whether Sammie Chavez, who is due in court January 11, has a lawyer.

Jessie Chavez told the Tulsa World her son called her from the jail after hearing of the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, and told her he was devastated that people thought he was capable of such an act.

"He said, 'all these babies, mum. Who would do that? How could people think I would do that?'," Jessie Chavez said.

An assistant principal at Bartlesville High School notified police on December 13 after a student said Sammie Chavez "tried to recruit other students to assist him with carrying out a plan to lure students into the school auditorium where he planned to begin shooting them after chaining the doors shut," Bartlesville police Lt. Kevin Ickleberry wrote in an affidavit.

"He also told them that he would place bombs by the doors so when the police arrived he would detonate the bombs, killing police as they entered the building," Ickleberry wrote.

Police later seized a rifle from his home in Bartlesville, about 80km north of Tulsa.

Jessie Chavez said her son might have gone too far with the thought of retaliating for what he perceived as people talking about him, but she said she is certain that he never intended to follow through.

"I don't say that just because I'm his mother but because of all the experiences we've had," she said. "Nobody knows Sammie like I do."

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- AP

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