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Tampa teen Jared Cano's plans to bomb high school found, say cops

Tampa, Fla.
Jared Cano, 17, center, is led out of a courtroom in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011 after being charged with possession of bomb-making materials. AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, Cherie Diez

(CBS/WTSP/AP) TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa police arrested expelled student Jared Cano after stopping what they called a "catastrophic" plot to set off a bomb at his former school next week, authorities said Wednesday.

Pictures: Jared Cano

Police Chief Jane Castor said Cano, 17, had threatened to plant a device at Freedom High School in north Tampa and discharge it on the first day of school next Tuesday. He was arrested Tuesday night, Aug. 16, after someone tipped off police about the plot.

At a news conference, Castor said that police and the school system, "were probably able to thwart a potentially catastrophic event, the likes of which the city of Tampa has not seen, and hopefully never will."

At Cano's home, police found materials to make pipe bombs, including a fuel source, shrapnel, plastic tubing and timing and fusing devices, Castor said. Police say they also found a journal containing schematic drawings of rooms inside the school and statements about his intent to kill.

According to Castor, the plan to bomb the school included his intent to cause more casualties than the 1999 Columbine High School massacre that resulted in the deaths of 13 people before the two shooters killed themselves.

Cano's mother consented to a police search at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Castor said. In addition to the bomb-making materials, police say they also found a marijuana growing operation.

Cano now faces felony charges of possessing bomb-making materials, threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device, cultivating and possessing marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities said Cano had multiple juvenile arrests. Charges have included burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, altering serial numbers on a firearm and drug possession. However, all charges have been either dismissed or no action has been taken.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that prosecutors, at a hearing Wednesday morning, said that when Cano was arrested he repeated his plan to discharge a bomb and cause mass casualties at the school.

The Times reported that Cano tried to speak when he appeared before a judge Wednesday morning but was quickly hushed by a public defender standing next to him.

"The plot wasn't..." Cano said, before the public defender stopped him and told the judge that "he has no comment," according to the Times.

Cano was expelled from Freedom High School in April 2010 because of an off-campus incident that was not school-related, Hillsborough County Schools Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

Cano's Facebook page has numerous references to marijuana and includes "lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten" as a favorite quote. Pictures on the page show the teen drinking from a bottle of malt liquor, smoking marijuana and holding a machete.

Cano's last status update reads "I just did the dumbest thing ever!"

School officials say they've sent out emails to parents, letting them know about what's happened and promise to have extra security on hand next Tuesday when school opens, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.