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updated: 5/22/2013 3:41 PM

Former Glenbard East student accused of shooting threat

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  • Michael Santoro

      Michael Santoro

 
 

A former Glenbard East student stands accused of planning to commit a mass shooting at the Lombard high school's graduation ceremony, authorities said Wednesday.

Michael Santoro, 19, of Lombard has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for planning the attack. He also is facing misdemeanor charges of possession of ammunition without a firearm owners identification card and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. He was taken into custody Tuesday and appeared Wednesday in bond court.

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Prosecutors said Santoro hatched the plot because he wasn't able to graduate last year from Glenbard East.

Santoro wrote "very detailed" plans for the shooting in a series of journal entries, Assistant State's Attorney Bethany Jackson said during the bond court appearance.

Jackson said the subject lines of the some of Santoro's journal entries included "The start," "Finding a way out alive" and "Doomsday."

Santoro even outlined in the journal whom he would attack first. The plan, according to Jackson, called for Santoro to initially target the school's deans.

Jackson said Santoro was acquiring ammunition and owns a tactical vest that could hold multiple magazines of ammunition. He also had aerial photographs of the school.

While Santoro doesn't own a gun, he has access to weapons from family members, Jackson said, and was hoping to acquire an AR-15 assault rifle.

Santoro wrote the shooting would be "the saddest day in Lombard that will be remembered forever," Jackson said in court.

Authorities said Santoro made the plans in November and was acting alone. The plot remained unknown until February, when Santoro told an acquaintance. That person reported the threat to police two weeks ago.

After Jackson finished explaining the case to the judge, a woman believed to be Santoro's mother stood up and said, "Everything she just said is an absolute lie." The woman declined to speak with a reporter after the hearing.

Meanwhile, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin issued a statement where he thanked Lombard police for their response. "I would also like to thank the individual who had information regarding this alleged threat for doing the right thing and alerting authorities," Berlin said.

Lombard police Chief Raymond Byrne said in the statement the case is an example of a suspect showing warning signs that subsequently were reported to authorities.

"This allowed us to work collaboratively with school officials and the DuPage County state's attorney's office to conduct a thorough investigation and prevent a potentially violent act," Byrne said.

Glenbard District 87 spokeswoman Peg Mannion said Lombard police assured district and school officials "there never was a time when students or staff were in danger."

"The safety of students and staff is the most important thing here," Mannion said. "That's always our focus."

During the hearing, Santoro said he was living with his grandmother in Lombard and recently got his GED. He said he is planning to start classes at College of DuPage.

He is being held in DuPage County jail on $500,000 bail.

If he's able to post $50,000 to get out of jail, Santoro will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device and must be confined to home. In addition, Judge Elizabeth Sexton has ordered Santoro to have no contact with anyone from Glenbard East and to not enter the high school.

• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.

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