Two teenagers were arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against a Virginia Beach high school prom last weekend, according to published reports.
Michael Coleman, 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit an act of terrorism at the Bayside High School senior prom, WJZ-TV reported.
Police placed them under surveillance after they tried to buy tickets for the prom, despite having no affiliation with the school, the report states. That led police to beef up security at the Westin Hotel, where the prom was held.
“It was unusual for someone not associated with the high school, or with anyone at the high school, to want to buy a ticket to show up at that particular event,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera told the media.
“Based on this information, the police department and the school safety department developed an enhanced security plan for the prom,” Cervera said.
Coleman was apprehended Saturday night after he ran from officers and tossed a 9mm handgun.
“I saw a guy running by probably eight to 10 policemen who were chasing behind him — probably 20 25 feet behind him — and they were saying, ‘Get out of the way,'” witness Dwight Cardin told the TV station.
After capturing Coleman, police executed a search warrant of a hotel room at the Westin. There, a 17-year-old male was found with an “armed with a semiautomatic rifle with a fully loaded clip and a box of additional ammunition,” the report said.
What is the penalty for the terrorism charge?
Coleman faces a minimum of 20 years behind bars and a maximum of life on the terrorism charge. He also faces several other charges. Court documents indicated that Coleman has no previous criminal record, the report said. He is being held at the Norfolk City Jail and awaits a court date later this month.
The 17-year-old is being held at a detention facility and will appear in court June 27. His name was withheld because he is a minor, according to reports.
No injuries were reported and the prom continued as planned, WJZ reported.