'It wasn't just about me and him at that point. It was about a whole school—hundreds of people, hundreds of kids, children.'
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of gun violence that some readers may find distressing.
A mother is speaking out about the heart-wrenching experience of having to report her own son to the police after finding distressing signs of him planning a killing spree and attack on his school and home. Nichole Schubert struggled to comprehend the violent and descriptive contents she found in her son's journal left on a cluttered dining-room shelf while cleaning her home in 2019. According to The Wall Street Journal, a police report states that the pages of the journal outlined the then-17-year-old's plan to attack his Washington high school on April 20, 2020, the anniversary of the Columbine school massacre.
Would you turn in your kid if he showed clear signs he's planning a mass shooting? How could you? Some parents have done it. And it's a gut wrenching decision. @Tawnell and @sara_randazzo with the emotional story for @WSJ https://t.co/M0GtSLQcuY— Chastity (@CPrattMedia) July 11, 2022
The teen planned to start his rampage at 5 a.m. by killing his mom and her boyfriend and end it with shooting at school at 12:20 p.m. "Kill everyone possible, fight to the death or kill self after maximum damage has occurred," he wrote in the journal, according to the police report. "It was very descriptive," Schubert recalled in an interview with Good Morning America. "It was just heartbreaking. I didn't, I didn't really want to know the details." Through tears, she said seeing what her son wrote was devastating.
Nicole Schubert is my hero. I can’t imagine how hard it was for her to turn in her son. SHE DID THE RIGHT THING and possibly saved many lives. I hope her bravery inspires other parents of troubled kids to face reality and act.— Jill (@CAHighway101) July 21, 2022
"That's my child, I, I gave birth to him, you know. It hurts a lot. It still hurts," Schubert said. The journal raised alarm bells as the shocked mother was aware of his obsession with mass killers. She also found what she believed to be bomb-making materials in her son's bedroom several months before discovering the journal. She had reported this incident to his probation officer since her son was on probation for marijuana use and violating curfew at the time. When she found the journal, after debating for hours, Schubert notified the authorities of her son and his plans.
Nichole Schubert opens up to "Good Morning America" about reporting her son to the police after finding a journal of his writings detailing a killing spree. https://t.co/qQlSv9ufWQ— Veterans United March (@VetsUnitedMarch) July 21, 2022
"Your first instinct is, as a parent, is to protect your child. But at that point, I felt like if he is actually going to do these things, he would be safer in jail," Schubert said. "It wasn't just about me and him at that point. It was about a whole school—hundreds of people, hundreds of kids, children." As heartbreaking as it was, Schuber doesn't regret her decision. "I believe I saved lives," she said. She hopes to prevent another school shooting or similar tragedy by sharing her family's story.
The @WSJ analyzed nearly three dozen mass school shootings going back to 1990, including Columbine. There are many notable similarities. https://t.co/OLcZVkAH6t via @WSJGraphics Graphics by @tylerpaige and @elbertwang1 pic.twitter.com/Ehx4AwPj75— WSJ Graphics (@WSJGraphics) April 19, 2019
"If there's a possibility to save even one—one person, one child—I think it's worth it," said Schubert.
Her son, who claims the journal entries were a fantasy and not a real plot to attack his mother and his school, was arrested and pleaded guilty to a felony charge for threatening to bomb or injure property, as well as misdemeanors of harassing. He also went through a mental evaluation and finished a rehabilitation program and community service afterward. In light of the recent spate of mass shootings, Schubert is urging other parents to pay attention to warning signs.
MORE: Change The Ref launched the NRA Children’s Museum. It’s a mobile museum of 52 school buses filled with personal memories of the children who’s lives were lost to shootings. @KHOU pic.twitter.com/Z928iWVrfV— Ugochi Iloka KHOU (@UgochiKHOU) July 14, 2022
"Stay in their business. Even if they don't like it. They're not going to like it. But as parents, it's our job to know what our kids are doing," she said. "Just be aware and watch for signs. Kids will normally tell you by their actions when something is wrong. Obviously, we can't control our children's actions all the time. Who can? But there are signs that something's not right, something's, you know, why is he acting weird? Why? Why is he so to himself? I was in his room, you know? What are you doing? Where are you going? All the time. And he hated it. But he's alive. And everyone's alive and he's not in jail."
Today, Schubert said her son—who is now 20 and doesn't live with her—is working and hopes to go to college. He has not had any trouble with the law since his arrest, she added. "You just pray. You just pray that God... helps them make the right choices through life. Because what else can you do? He's over 18 now," she said. "He's my child. I love him unconditionally. I'll always be there for him. I'll always love him no matter what he does."