Maryland: Father’s Tip Disrupts Possible Mass Shooting

After becoming suspicious of his daughter’s behavior, a Maryland father discovered her journal detailing plans for a Columbine-style school shooting and immediately notified authorities—underscoring the role parents, friends, and close associates play in countering violence. In March, Nicole Cevario was arrested for planning to conduct a mass shooting at Catoctin High School in Thurmont, Maryland. She has been charged with possession of explosive and incendiary materials, with the intent to create a destructive device.

  • According to her journal, Cevario was planning the shooting for four months and had acquired a shotgun with ammunition and materials for making pipe bombs, such as shrapnel, fireworks, magnesium tape, and fuses. The journal also included details about her school’s emergency procedures, as well as a conversation Cevario had with a school resource officer about Catoctin’s active-shooter response plan. The journal indicated she planned to die in the attack.
     
  • Mental health and emotional issues played a role, as Cevario’s personal frustrations—also detailed in her journal—correlated directly with the progression of her planning and preparation for the attack, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Neither the details of these frustrations nor her medical evaluation have been released.

Cevario’s case highlights a wider trend of individuals committed to mass violence against educational institutions, who draw inspiration from school shootings in Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut. In total, these atrocities resulted in the deaths of 32 students and seven teachers. 

  • Less than a week after Cevario’s arrest, two students in Paterson (Passaic County) were charged with threatening to commit a Columbine-style attack at Eastside High School in Paterson and at New Roberto Clemente Middle School, which they previously attended. Although bullying was cited as part of the plotters’ motive, the students were familiar with the Columbine and Newtown shootings. Additionally, in January, two teens in central Florida were arrested on suspicion of committing a mass shooting at their school, also citing the attack in Columbine as inspiration.
     
  • We encourage all partners to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and to NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch by calling 866-4SAFENJ (866-472-3365) or e-mailing tips@njohsp.gov.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.