18-year-old ninth-grader, another student arrested after planning to ‘chain doors, shoot up’ Madison High School, documents say


HOUSTON – Two Madison High School students were arrested Wednesday after authorities believe they were planning a school shooting for Friday, according to court documents.

Cornell Santell Thomas, 18, and Damian Arias, 17, are both charged with making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony.

Thomas stood before a magistrate judge in probable cause court Friday morning.

“He is a full time student and is attending Madison High School as a ninth grader,” Thomas’ public defender said.

The judge took a long sigh, then read aloud the details of the investigation.

“Alright, obviously, this is a case with alleged facts that raise serious concerns about the safety of the public,” the judge said. “What, frankly, disturbs me about these alleged facts is we all have seen lots of cases where kids in school say things, make alleged threats, etc. but it seems in this case that Mr. Thomas and Mr. Arias both made statements to the police that seemed to indicate, and I’ll quote here that ‘Damian Arias admitted that he was going to shoot up the school and doing it on Friday during lunchtime.’”

The judge went on to read that, when Thomas was questioned by police, he allegedly admitted that he also planned to shoot up the school, mentioning a Youtube video. The judge also read that Arias was to get a gun from his uncle and use it to carry out their attack.

“They were going to bring it (the gun) to school Friday and do it during lunch because that’s when there were two police officers in the cafeteria. The plan was to lock the exit doors, chain the exit doors and trap everyone inside the school,” the judge read.

Thomas’ bond was set at $70,000 and Arias’ bond was set at $50,000. They are both currently being held in the Harris County Jail.

The judge then set conditions in place if Thomas makes bond.

“I don’t want him going back to school, not to that school, and frankly, I doubt that Madison High School has a plan in place to take him back,” the judge said.

Thomas must get outfitted with an electronic monitor within three days of release and must adhere to a curfew, being inside his home between 6 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., seven days per week.

Thomas is also not allowed to have any contact with Arias, his alleged co-conspirator. In addition, he may not use or possess any firearms, any replica firearms, any air pistols or anything that looks like a gun. He is restricted from being in possession of ammunition, magazines or any other weapons.

He may not use any illegal drugs or alcohol and must stay 200 feet away from the campus.

KPRC 2 has not yet obtained probable cause court video for Arias’ appearance, however, court documents show he has the same bond conditions in place, with the exception that, if released, he will be on house arrest between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., seven days a week. That means he is to remain inside his home around the clock.

Brian Wice, KPRC2‘s Legal Analyst, said the teens could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, if convicted on the third-degree felony charge.

“We’re talking about two teenagers whose misguided, knuckleheaded and allegedly criminal conduct is thrusting them into a criminal justice system treating them like adults,” Wice said.

The Houston Independent School District has not released a statement at this time.

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