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French police prevent teen high school massacre

Beauvais — 13-year-old French boy set out Tuesday to mow down his teachers with a shotgun but abandoned the plan when he arrived at the school and found it surrounded by police, officials said.

The boy’s parents raised the alarm when they realised he had taken the family gun from their house near Beauvais, north of Paris, and was headed to his school in Beauvais itself, officials said.

The teenager was in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and admitted his homicidal intentions during an interview, Beauvais prosecutor James Juan said in a statement.

He wanted "to attack his teachers who quarrelled with him even though he had done nothing (wrong)," Juan said.

The boy, said to be a video game enthusiast, had on Monday left a message on his blog stating that "this is the last day of my life."

"He left his home with a loaded hunting rifle and 25 cartridges," said senior local official Raymond Yeddou. "He went in the direction of the school where, according to his declarations, he intended to kill his teachers."

But when he saw a major police presence in front of and inside the school he abandoned his plan and instead headed to a cyber cafe in Beauvais town centre where his parents later found him.

Police warned the head of the 2,000-pupil Saint Esprit school to keep his students confined to their classrooms as the drama unfolded.

Yeddou stressed that the boy never managed to get into the school and students were not in danger at any point.

The alarm was raised at 8:15 am (0715 GMT) by the boy’s parents, who had become concerned by his unusual behaviour and searched their house, finding the gun and ammunition gone.

"His parents were worried when they saw him leave the house very early, around 7:00 am. He did not seem to be his usual self," a source close to the investigation said.

Though generally a good student, the source said, the boy has recently had problems at school and was worried about a parent-teacher meeting due on Tuesday.

The Beauvais prosecutor said the boy wanted to stop the meeting at the academically high-achieving school from going ahead.

Dominique Moutin, the head of the school, said nothing in the boy’s behaviour suggested Tuesday’s events were likely.

The incident occurred with schools and universities in the United States, Germany and Finland having all seen massacres in recent years.

A year and a half ago in the Rhone area of eastern France, a 15-year-old planned to attack a group of boys who were bullying him at school, and stabbed three of them with a kitchen knife.