Connor Pruett, 13, and Phillip Byrd, 14, were ordered to be held for 21 days in secure juvenile detention.
The boys are eighth-grade students at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers. They were detained on Thursday after a school resource officer was notified a student had a gun in his backpack.
No weapon was found, but the deputy allegedly discovered that the boys had spoken to each other during lunch about a school shooting plot. A map of the school was found that included the locations of surveillance cameras.
Police were notified and detectives found the boys had been researching the Columbine shooting, how to build a pipe bomb and how to buy guns on the black market.
Officers searched their homes and found guns, ammunition and knives.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said the two were plotting a school shooting that would mirror that of Columbine in Colorado and Parkland in Florida.
He told a news conference: “This could have been the next Parkland massacre, but we stopped them in the planning stages.”
Byrd’s mother Carrie Tuller defended her son at yesterday’s court hearing.
“He’s just a little boy,” she said. “He didn’t think this was really serious. He didn’t think they were serious.”
Thirteen people were killed when two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before taking their lives on April 20, 1999. At the time it was America’s worst ever mass school shooting.