Press Releases

School plot suspect let go, students and neighbors worry

By Michael Mello, The Associated Press
Friday December 07, 2001

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — The teen-ager accused of plotting a Columbine-style massacre at his school returned to his mother’s home Thursday, prompting a student protest and concern among his neighbors. 

About 75 students walked out of New Bedford High School in anger after a judge allowed 17-year-old Eric McKeehan to go home while awaiting trial. He must wear an electronic monitoring device. 

“It seems a little mind-boggling,” said John Socorro, 57, a neighbor. “I feel unsafe around a young crazy kid like that.” 

Headmaster Joseph Oliver said the students who left school would be disciplined, though he planned to meet with them to discuss their concerns. McKeehan has been ordered to have no contact with witnesses in the case, and to stay away from the high school. 

Police have charged four other teen-agers with plotting to shoot students and faculty at the school. 

McKeehan has pleaded innocent to conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and possession of ammunition. His attorney says the teens never seriously considered putting the plot into action.