Police, dogs sweep school for explosives in alleged plot

Monday, November 26, 2001

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- Police used bomb-sniffing dogs on Sunday to search a high school where three teen-agers allegedly planned to use explosives and guns to kill fellow students.

The all-day search of the sprawling 3,300-student New Bedford High School by 38 police officers and five bomb-sniffing dogs yielded no new evidence of the alleged plot, said police Lt. Richard Spirlet.

"We didn't think we were going to find anything," Spirlet said. "But we want to put the public at ease."

Police, school officials and faculty members gathered Sunday morning at the school to discuss the events and to confirm the school would open Monday.

Eric McKeehan, 17, and two juveniles who allegedly modeled themselves after the two students who carried out the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado were scheduled for arraignment today on charges that include conspiracy to murder.

The students were arrested at their homes early Saturday after a school janitor found a letter outlining their alleged plans to detonate explosives in the school and then shoot fleeing students.

Police said the suspects planned to kill themselves when police arrived.

Homes searched

A search of the students' homes yielded bomb-making instructions, knives, shotgun shells and pictures of the suspects holding what appeared to be handguns.

Two other students, described by police as part of the core of conspirators, were not in custody Sunday, but police had been in contact with them.

"The other two, they're known to us," Spirlet said. "They're not a threat."

Spirlet said he did not believe the two would be attending school Monday.

Spirlet would not comment on whether police were seeking other conspirators, but indicated the group of suspects was small. "We're not looking at 20, 30 people," he said.

The three arrested students face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of ammunition.

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