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Police 'very familiar' with Fla. bomb plotter

Jared Cano, 17, center, is led out of the courtroom in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011after being charged with possession of bomb-making materials in connection with a plot for an attack at Freedom High School on the first day of school. He was arrested Tuesday night, after a confidential informant told Tampa police the teen was planning to blow up Freedom High School on the first day of class. Cano, an expelled student,  faces felony charges of possessing bomb-making materials, cultivating marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possessing of marijuana and threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device.   (AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, Cherie Diez)  TAMPA OUT, USA TODAY  OUT, HERNANDO TODAY OUT,CITRUS COUNTY CHRONICLE OUT,  NO MAGS, NO SALES

Jared Cano, 17, center, is led out of the courtroom in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011after being charged with possession of bomb-making materials in connection with a plot for an attack at Freedom High School on the first day of school. He was arrested Tuesday night, after a confidential informant told Tampa police the teen was planning to blow up Freedom High School on the first day of class. Cano, an expelled student, faces felony charges of possessing bomb-making materials, cultivating marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possessing of marijuana and threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device. (AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, Cherie Diez) TAMPA OUT, USA TODAY OUT, HERNANDO TODAY OUT,CITRUS COUNTY CHRONICLE OUT, NO MAGS, NO SALES

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two years before he was accused of plotting to bomb his high school, Jared Cano confronted police with a metal baseball bat when they came to his apartment looking for a stolen pistol, which they eventually found in his bedroom. He was 15 at the time, but already had several run-ins with police.

Cano's troubled history is outlined in police reports released after investigators uncovered what they say was a plan to attack the Tampa school that expelled him. None of the previous juvenile charges -- from burglary to firearm possession -- ended in a conviction.

Yet it appears that this week's bomb plot went beyond angry teenage bluster: Detectives said Cano had amassed shrapnel, plastic tubing, timing and fuse devices for pipe bombs. The attack plan investigators found on Tuesday was mapped out minute-by-minute.

Experts say the level of preparation shows how serious he was.

"Ninety-nine percent of the population who fantasize about harming someone because they are frustrated, or for whatever reason, don't actually make plans to carry it out," said Charles A. Williams, a Drexel University psychology professor and expert on violent youth.

School safety expert Kenneth S. Trump agreed that the written plans showed a "high probability" that Cano would have carried out an attack.

"The good news is that since Columbine we still see kids coming forward to report the threats and the plots, such as in this case," said Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services.

Tampa investigators were tipped off Tuesday that Cano was plotting to bomb Freedom High School, and they thought the information was plausible enough to search the apartment where he lived with his mother. Cano's past run-ins with the law had earned him a court-ordered curfew and a place on a police watch list.

"We've been very, very familiar with him," police Maj. John Newman said. Police have declined to say who tipped them off.

Before this week, Cano's most recent arrest came when he was accused in March 2010 of breaking into a house and stealing a handgun, Tampa police said. According to the police report, the gun's owner -- who was the grandfather of Cano's friend -- said the weapon had three rounds in the clip.

In January 2010, Cano was considered a suspect when a neighbor's screened porch was broken into. Nothing was stolen and no charges were filed.

Before that, police caught him with a stun gun in 2008, and he was arrested in 2007 at age 13 for stealing CDs out of a car.

Cano had been expelled from Freedom High in 2010. Reports said that he was being homeschooled at the time of his arrest this week, and that his mother is a Hillsborough County schoolteacher. He once told an officer that he had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. His parents were divorced, and his father told a local newspaper that he had not seen his son for several years.