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Photo Clerk Helps Foil Plot to Bomb California College

Aired January 31, 2001 - 1:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A photo clerk may have helped authorities foil a plot to bomb a college in California. Now authorities are trying to find out whether the teenaged suspect was acting alone.

Reporter Kristen Dahlgren of our affiliate KGO as the story from Cupertino, California -- Kristen.

KRISTEN DAHLGREN, KGO REPORTER: Natalie, students here at De Anza College are returning to class today, but they're doing it with the knowledge that they came very close to a massacre yesterday. Police say that hundreds of people could have been killed if things had gone according to plan.

We're also finding out more today about the young man that police say is behind planning this Columbine-style attack. He is 19-year-old Al DeGuzman. Police do have him in custody. They say he's refusing to cooperate, but they can gather from his writings and an audiotape that he left behind that he's been planning this attack for two years. They say in his house along with bombs and sawed-off shotguns, they found a detailed timeline and a map of campus.

His plan, according to police, was to blow up the cafeteria and then to shoot people as they fled from the scene. He was just hours from putting his plan into action when a clerk at a Long's Drugstore (ph) saw photos of DeGuzman with the weapons as she was developing them, and that's when she called police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the most extensive arsenal I've ever seen. It is really chilling for the professionals here in the police department to look at how meticulous he was in the planning with timelines, what he was going to do, where he was going to place the devices. So we were incredibly lucky, I think, with just a courageous act on the part of this young lady that reported it, and some real good police work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She responded quickly, she called the police department, she -- when the gentleman came back to the drugstore to pick up his photos, she delayed him so that police officers could arrive on the scene and take him into custody and begin the process of finding out what was going on here and preventing this catastrophe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAHLGREN: The girl is the daughter of a San Jose police officer. Her name is not being released because police still don't know if anyone else was involved in planning this attack.

Some of DeGuzman's writings on his Web site do refer to "we," and police have spoken to at least one of his friends who tested explosives with DeGuzman at some point in the last year.

As for a motive, police also say they still don't know what that is. In his writings, it shows a lot of anger, but police say that isn't directed at anyone specific. He does, however, glorify Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

So still a lot of questions here today, but police are saying that everyone here is very lucky that we're not reporting on a very different story.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: All right, thank goodness for that alert photo clerk. Kristen Dahlgren of KGO, thanks so much.

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