ACES student who planned shooting sentenced to 22 years

By Brandon Gustafson | Mar 06, 2019

Joshua O’Connor, 19, the former ACES High School and Kamiak High School student arrested last year for planning to conduct a school shooting at ACES, was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison Feb. 28.

O’Connor’s plan was discovered by his grandmother, who turned her grandson into the police on Feb. 14, 2018 – the same day the Parkland, Florida, shooting took place, which left 17 dead.

The night prior to his arrest, O’Connor and a friend robbed an ampm convenience store on Casino Road wearing masks depicting President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. According to court documents, O’Connor pointed an AR-15-style rifle he legally purchased from West Coast Armory at the clerk, and wrote about how powerful he felt in his journal afterwards.

When O’Connor returned home Feb. 13, he was not wearing a jacket, and was holding a guitar case. O’Connor’s grandmother, who he lived with, asked where his jacket was, which he said was inside the guitar case, according to court records.

O’Connor’s grandmother searched his room the next day and found a rifle in the guitar case, as well as inert grenades and a journal. In the journal, O’Connor had written detailed plans to conduct a school shooting and bombing at ACES that he hoped to make “infamous.”

In the journal, O’Connor wrote that he planned to use pressure cooker bombs and zip ties, and would “mow kids down” in the school’s gymnasium and hallways.

Another journal entry showed he flipped a coin to determine whether he would conduct his plan at either ACES or Kamiak.

“The results: I’m coming for you Ace’s,” he wrote. “Damn Kamiak, you (expletives) got lucky. I hope someone follows in my footsteps and gets you dumb (expletives). I can’t wait to (expletive) up (ACES).”

O’Connor said he also planned to kill himself after conducting the shooting.

He had planned to go through with his plan in mid-April, which prosecutors believed was to coincide with the anniversaries of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

O’Connor’s sentencing was delayed a few weeks while Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss determined the sentence, which state guidelines suggested be 22½ to 28⅓ years. O’Connor’s lawyers had asked for a reduced sentence of 12 years.

O’Connor’s team argued that O’Connor’s rough upbringing, which they said included a lack of electricity, water, and food. His team also said he was physically abused while growing up, which all resulted in O’Connor being “stunted” and “immature.”

O’Connor’s grandmother asked Weiss to show her grandson mercy in his sentencing. Weiss called her a hero for turning in her grandson and potentially saving lives, including her grandson’s, but also read entries from O’Connor’s journal where O’Connor wrote about needing to get the highest fatality number he could.

Weiss declined to issue a reduced sentence, saying O’Connor’s plans were premeditated and not impulsive.

Reading a written statement, O'Connor apologized, saying he'd abusing drugs and alcohol in addition to being suicidal during that time of his life.



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