Three teen-age boys to be arraigned in alleged school bomb plot
Half of students show up for class, principal says
November 26, 2001 Posted: 1:54 PM EST (1854 GMT)
NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Three teen-age boys were scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Massachusetts courtrooms after allegedly plotting to kill students and faculty at the high school they attend.
Meanwhile, the high school was declared safe to open Monday after police with bomb-sniffing dogs swept the grounds over the weekend.
The principal estimated that only about half the student body showed up for classes.
Police and bomb-sniffing dogs spent Sunday searching the 3,300-student New Bedford High School and found no explosives, a police spokesman said.
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"I was a little nervous, but I trust the school," one student said Monday, referring to the weekend search.
Eric McKeehan, 17, and two 15-year-old freshmen allegedly modeled themselves after the two students who carried out the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, police said.
The three students were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of ammunition.
McKeehan was being held on $10,000 cash bail. The two juvenile suspects were being held on $5,000 cash bail. Under Massachusetts law, juveniles are defined as being between the ages of 8 and 16.
The two 15-year-olds appeared before a juvenile court Monday, while McKeehan was to face an adult court later in the day.
The arrests came after an investigation that began when a student alerted police in mid-October. Police questioned one of the suspects after they discovered bomb-making materials at an undisclosed property the following week.
But New Bedford Police Chief Arthur Kelly said the bomb lacked key elements that would arm it, so police could not make an arrest, according to the AP.
The search of the high school was carried out after a janitor discovered a letter detailing a Columbine-like massacre, according to police.
Fifteen people died in the rampage at Columbine High School on April 20 1999, including the teen-age gunmen, who committed suicide. It was the nation's bloodiest school shooting.
The letter "explicitly outlined an event that would occur on a Monday," according to authorities. It said the attack would involve "explosives or the use of explosives, weapons and injuring or killing students and faculty," police said. Authorities also found photos of people posing with weapons.
Police held out the possibility of more arrests.
The search of six sections of the school was carried out by teams involving eight Massachusetts state police, 30 New Bedford police officers and five sniffer dogs, according to police.