The attorney for 17-year-old expelled former Freedom High student, Jared Michael Cano has pleaded “not guilty” for Cano’s alleged plans to kill Freedom students and staff members on the first day of school. If convicted, the teenager could face up to 35 years in prison. Due to the serious nature of his alleged crimes, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office is charging Cano as an adult.
On September 16, Cano’s lawyer submitted the written “not guilty” plea. The teenager was not present in court.
Until recently, Cano was being held at a juvenile assessment center in Hillsborough County, but he is now being held without bail in Orient Rd. Jail. Reports of Cano’s plan had shaken some students and parents at Freedom, but after a hectic first day, principal John Farkas says the school is now long since back on track.
Cano already had a considerable arrest record and a manifesto on how he planned to kill as many as 30 Freedom students and two assistant principals. The teen, who lived with his mother, Michelle Cano, at their Cypress Run at Tampa Palms apartment, has been charged with possessing bomb-making materials, cultivating marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possessing marijuana and threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device.
Cano was arrested August 16 after an anonymous tipster called the TPD call center and let them know about his plans, which, according to TPD Chief Jane Castor, included a minute-by-minute plan to kill Freedom High students and staff. Cano’s goal was to surpass the number of fatalities at the massacre at Columbine High in Colorado in 1999, which killed 12 students and one teacher, Castor said.
Police found fuel sources, shrapnel, plastic tubing, timing and fuse devices at the apartment where Cano lived.
Cano was expelled last year for inappropriate behavior in an off-school-grounds incident. He previously was arrested for breaking into a friend’s home and stealing a handgun, walking around his apartment complex with a stun gun and stealing CDs out of cars.
Since the incident, friends have described Cano as a kid “who did not know how to vent,” or as a troubled teen. Since his arrest, a string of Facebook support pages have popped up like: “Save Jared Cano,” “Support Jared Cano” and “Free Jared Cano,” which literally have hundreds of “Likes” each.