YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Nation

3 Arrested in Columbine-Style Plot

Crime: Bomb-making instructions, knives and shotgun shells are seized from the homes of the Massachusetts high school students.

November 25, 2001|From Associated Press

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Police arrested three students Saturday on charges of allegedly plotting a Columbine-style massacre at their high school.

Police seized bomb-making instructions, knives, shotgun shells and pictures of the suspects holding what appeared to be handguns from their homes in this coastal city about 50 miles south of Boston.

Police said a janitor found a letter Tuesday at New Bedford High School that allegedly 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.

Eric McKeehan, 17, and two juveniles whom police did not identify face charges including conspiracy to commit murder.

McKeehan is being held on $10,000 bail, while the two juvenile suspects are being held on $5,000 bail. Their arraignments are scheduled for Monday.

Police said they planned to arrest at least two other students in connection with the alleged plot.

No one answered the door at McKeehan's home 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.

"Eric seemed very quiet," neighbor Lilian Ramos said. "It's shocking. I have children who live here."

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."

Police said they started investigating the alleged plot Oct. 17 when a student told them about it.

Police said they questioned one of the suspects after finding bomb-making materials at an undisclosed location. But the bomb lacked key elements that would arm it, so police could not make an arrest, Kelly said.

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.

Police planned to search the school today with bomb-sniffing dogs.

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."

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.

Los Angeles Times Articles