Mother of teen targeted in thwarted school shooting plot hopes for closure during sentencing

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Former Washingtonville High School student Brendan Vaughn will be sentenced Thursday – two years after authorities say they discovered a hit list and plans to shoot students.

Laura Dowling recalled to News 12 when FBI agents showed up on her doorstep because her son was one of four students targeted in what authorities say was a foiled shooting at Washingtonville High School.

"I think everything pretty much went blank for me that day," Dowling said. "I was just in disbelief. They asked my son how he knew Brendan Vaughn." 

She said her son knew Brendan Vaughn from school. She was shocked he was on a kill list since the two had little contact.

The now 19-year-old will be sentenced Thursday in White Plains Federal Court after pleading guilty to the foiled 2018 plot that included plans to use students as "human shields" to avoid being shot by police.

Authorities say Vaughn posted cryptic remarks on social media and say a handwritten note was found at his home with the words "revenge,” “fate” and “killer" on it, along with an iPhone that he used to look up firearms, pipe bombs and research school massacres.

"We would've had a catastrophe on our hands," Dowling said. "It's not just my child or the other children that were involved in this plot. It was a community, it's a school district."

Dowling said she and her family are continuing to heal from a frightening close call and now look forward to having closure once Vaughn is sentenced.

"I don't want it forgotten. I'm hoping that the sentence he receives is warranted and that he will pay for the trauma," Dowling said.

Federal prosecutors are recommending up to two-and-half years behind bars. Vaughn has been in prison since March and his attorney is asking for time served and a transfer to a psychiatric facility.


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