Paul Steber is a 19-year-old former freshman at High Point University who was arrested Tuesday in North Carolina on charges accusing him of possessing two firearms and planning to carry out a mass shooting.
The High Point Police Department said Steber was arrested and charged with two felony counts that included having a gun on campus and making threats of mass violence.
North Carolina prohibits any person, including a concealed handgun permit holder, from carrying a firearm, openly or concealed, on educational property or at a curricular or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public or private primary school, community college, college, or university.
Through the course of the investigation, detectives found “probable cause to charge Steber with one count of Communicating a Threat of Mass Violence on Educational Property (Class H Felony)” according to a police statement.
Students alerted school security that Steber had two firearms and ammunition in his dorm room, police said. School security then alerted the police who raided Steber’s dorm room at UC Wanek freshman housing and found him in possession of a Star Super Modelo 9mm and a Brownson, Slucom, and Hopkins percussion shotgun along with ammunition and a “plan and timeline to kill people”, according to court documents obtained by Fox 8.
Police immediately took him into custody and transported him to the High Point Police Department for questioning.
Assistant District Attorney Lori Wickline said in court that Steber “told officers that he definitely had a plan, something that he had been thinking about since Christmas of last year,” and that, “he was not going to be an outcast any longer.”
She added that he’d been, “recently watching videos of the Charleston mass shooting down in South Carolina and other mass shootings so that he could learn what to do and what not to do.”
Steber has been expelled from HPU and the university sent out an email to the student community following the incident. “The safety and security of the HPU family is our top priority.” the letter said, “As we begin a new school year, we experienced an unfortunate situation today.”
He’s currently being held in the Guildford County Jail. As a result of the first two felonies, he will be held without bond for 10 days while he undergoes a mental health evaluation.
His bond for the third charge (communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property) is set at $2 million. Police say he is a flight risk because he asked when he could flee the state while in police custody, according to Fox 8.
The judge said they will revisit his release on September 6. Steber’s next court date is currently set for November 1, he will remain in custody until then.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Paul Steber Saw a Psychiatrist in the Past, His Lawyer Said
During his hearing, Steber’s lawyer said that he has seen a psychiatrist in the past but that was for ADD and that nothing like this has come up before.
This is apparently the first incident of Steber threatening violence towards anyone.
2. He Graduated From the Newman School in Boston
Headmaster Harry Lynch told Boston 25 reporter Drew Karedes that “We are all shocked and surprised,” referring to the faculty at the Newman School, when they heard about Steber’s arrest.
Boston reporter Ted Daniel obtained yearbook photos from one of Steber’s former classmates. The photo shows Steber along with a post-it note that he wrote which reads “whatever you do, do it in the most outstanding and exciting way possible!”
3. He Was Planning on Killing His Roommate & Himself if He Didn’t Get Into a Fraternity, Prosecutors Say
According to Fox 8, District Attorney Lori Wickline said in court that Steber told police he had planned to rush a fraternity with his roommate and “didn’t care which one”. He allegedly told police if he and his roommate didn’t get into one, he was going to kill his roommate and himself.
He also allegedly told investigators that he came to High Point University because he wanted to be in North Carolina where it was “easier to get a gun”.
4. He Was an NRA Enthusiast, High Schoool Classmates Say
According to CBS 4 Boston, Martin Lentz, a former classmate of Steber’s at the Newman School said his arrest “didn’t surprise me in the slightest”.
“Basically every single day during class, all he did was look up the NRA, look up guns, politicians. He would look up politicians both Democratic and Republican and just stare at them,” said Lentz.
He also once told classmates that he “needed guns to protect myself from illegal aliens,” the news station reports.
Another former classmate told NBC 10 Boston that he “felt at times he could be a little unhinged.”, referring to Steber.
5. His Father Wants to Bring Him Back to Boston
According to Fox 8 reporter Hayley Fixler, Steber’s lawyer said “His father is concerned about his son and we would like to see him moved to a more therapeutic environment.”
She tried to get a comment from his father and his lawyer who politely declined. “Would you guys be willing to talk about everything?” she asked “No. Thanks though, appreciate the offer” his lawyer responded.
Fixler also added in a separate tweet that “You can tell by his dad’s face how distraught he is by this.”
Fox 8 also reported that Steber’s father “was visibly upset listening to everything his son is accused of.” while in court.
Despite the $2 million bond, his dad and lawyer are hoping for a pre-trial release for Steber. But they “understand the situation ” and will “wait until forensic evaluation has been completed.”
His mother is currently on vacation in the UK.
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