NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts
11/26/01 -- Three teen-age boys are scheduled to be arraigned today in a
Massachusetts courtroom after plotting to kill students and faculty at New
Bedford High School where they are enrolled.
McKeehan, a 17 year old student at the New Bedford
High School, stands in the 3rd District Court in New
Bedford, Massachusetts, November 26, 2001. He was
charged as one of three students who were allegedly
plotting a bombing and shooting spree at the school.
Police found written plans, bomb making components,
and weapons when they arrested the three suspects.
Eric McKeehan , 17, a junior at the school is being held on $10,000 cash
bail and two unidentified 15-year-old freshmen are being held on $5,000 cash
bail each. They allegedly modeled themselves after the two students who
carried out the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado. [Assessment
Certification Training of At-Risk Students] The
three students are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to
commit assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of
ammunition. Under Massachusetts law, juveniles are defined as being between
the ages of 8 and 16.
used a robot and sniffer dogs to search the school.
The high school was declared safe to open Monday after police with
bomb-sniffing dogs and a robot swept the grounds over the weekend. 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. [Crisis
Response Plan Training]
The search of the 3,300-student New Bedford High School was carried out
after a janitor discovered a letter detailing a Columbine-like massacre,
according to police. 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. The letter
outlined the suspects' plans to detonate explosives, shoot fleeing students,
and kill themselves when police arrived.
"They said specifically it would be bigger than Columbine,"
police Chief Arthur Kelly said. Authorities also found photos of people
posing with weapons. Police held out the possibility of more arrests. Police
said they decided to make the arrests after the letter was found. The letter
said the attack would happen on a Monday, police said, though it didn't
specify a date.
"We decided not to let another Monday go by," Kelly said.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher
before killing themselves in the April 1999 attack on Columbine High School
in Littleton, Colo. It was the nation's bloodiest school shooting.
A fellow student alerted police in mid-October that there was a plot
to attack the school. [Kids
are the Keys Assembly]Police questioned one of the suspects after they
discovered bomb-making materials at an undisclosed property the following
week. Police Chief Arthur Kelly said the bomb lacked key elements that would
arm it, so police could not make an arrest.
No one answered the door at McKeehan's home on Saturday. McKeehan moved
into a three-story house this summer and lived with a friend, neighbors
said. There was no telephone listing for his name in New Bedford.
Jenna Reed, 15, who used to hang out with McKeehan, said he had joked
about "how cool it would be to pretend to blow up the school."
Reed said none of McKeehan's friends felt threatened.
"He talked about it but he was joking around," Reed said.
"I'd never expect him to do anything like that."
School board member Kevin Finnerty said McKeehan is a junior and the
other two are freshmen, but he did not know them personally.
"It's always been a very safe school," he said. "We've
never had any really serious incidents there."
Keys To Safer Schools.com would
like to praise the student who came forward with a true sense of community
and broke through the wall of silence. This simple act of reporting may have
saved the lives of hundreds of students and staff. Keys also praised the
police and school administration for taking the report and the letter
seriously and acting quickly to insure everyone’s safety.