As details emerged Tuesday about how police stopped two students from South Pasadena High School from potentially carrying out a mass shooting, those who know one of the suspects said they do not believe the teen would be capable of carrying out the alleged plot.
"He's not that kind of boy that's capable of harm," said Martha Garcia, a long-time neighbor. "He wasn't even capable of defending himself!"
The teen, who neighbors describe as a tall, awkwardly shy young man, was often bullied according to neighbors. They believe the incoming high school senior, who was often seen walking his dog, may have been "pushed too far."
"You would see him running from school and you would see the kids running after him," said Garcia. "(They'd) stop right here and they would slap him the head."
Another neighbor, whose son was also bullied said he was grateful a school employee alerted police of the threat, but believes the school should have recognized warning signs earlier.
"I'm glad that nobody got hurt and that this didn't happen like it has in other communities,"said Isidor Torres. "It's really sad that no one intervened earlier. Maybe now at least he can get some help."
Some residents said tragedy may have been diverted this time, but that this incident should serve as a wake up call to this community and others.
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"I'm still stunned to tell you the truth," said Mary Kay Rosenfeld, a Pasadena resident.
Student Julian Lopez, a senior, was at South Pasadena City Hall Tuesday morning, learning new information about what police say could have become a massacre at his school.
"They say they're gonna be incoming seniors and I'm an incoming senior so there's a chance in me knowing them," he said.
South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said the students involved had a "very real threat" and "a plan in mind they were going to execute."
Two students, ages 16 and 17, were arrested on charges of conspiracy and criminal threats after police say they found evidence of a plan to kill three teachers and as many students as possible.
"Yeah, you see it all over the news and see it happen at Sandy Hook, but you never think it'll happen at your school," said Jackson Totleben, an incoming freshman.
Students and parents were thankful the threat has been stopped.
"I trust our police force, I trust our administrators at the school, I know them," said parent Karyn Weinstock.
But questions remain about the motive. Police kept what they know about that out of the conversations on Tuesday.
"It's some pretty frightening information the computer forensics revealed and the interview with them," Miller said.
Bullying has been a common guess, but parents and students say it could be something every student feels.
"the stress and everything put on kids especially here in South Pasadena to perform up to the standards of our school system," said parent John Stifel.
The school district and the high school have consistently ranked high in statewide scholastic achievement.
Lopez says he's felt the pressure.
"Yes, I do, 'cause I want to exceed as well as my other peers," he said. "When we apply for college, we're looked upon as South Pasadena and we're really good, so just that pressure of always excelling is the pressure."
But whether pressure, or bullying, police say the threat of what could have happened here: was real and it could have been devastating.
"Any motive would not rise to the level of the response that they had," Miller said.