A 19-year-old freshman arrested in his dorm room at a North Carolina university with two firearms was obsessed with mass shootings and told police that he planned to kill his roommate and himself if he failed to get into a fraternity, according to prosecutors.
Paul Steber of Boston was arrested on Tuesday after other students alerted High Point University campus security that he had a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a double-barrel, 12-gauge shotgun in his room.
He was charged with possession of weapons on campus and for making threats of mass violence, the High Point Police Department said in a statement.
Assistant District Attorney Lori Wickline told the court Wednesday that Steber had bought the guns over the weekend.
She said Steber told officers that he had been planning a shooting spree since last Christmas and was “not going to be an outcast any longer” at the university.
Wickline said Steber was trying to get into a fraternity and that “if his roommate got into a fraternity and he didn’t, he had a plan to kill his roommate and himself.”
The prosecutor said Steber had recently been watching videos of mass shootings, including the attack on a black church in Charleston in 2015 that left nine people dead, “so that he could learn what to do and what not to do.”
She added that Steber told officers he had decided to enroll in High Point University “because it was easier to get guns in North Carolina than other states.”
Police praised the students who alerted police.
“This incident illustrates the importance of the public reporting suspicious activity to authorities,” said High Point Chief of Police Kenneth J Shultz in a statement. “Information from the public is often the critical first step in preventing acts of mass violence.”
In a video statement to students and parents, HPU president Nido Qubein referred to the suspect as “a young man making a really bad choice.”
Yesterday, HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein shared this important message with students, parents, faculty and staff. Today, we're sharing with it with you. Thank you for your support during this time. And always remember – If you see something, say something. https://t.co/yE2i1pTkBP
— HighPointUniversity (@HighPointU) August 29, 2019
“It’s a tough world we’re living in it really is,” Qubein said. “We all should questioning why is it like this. But crazy things happen. What is important is on this campus that we work diligently to ensure the safety of all of our students, staff and faculty every day.”
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