Police arrested two teens in Virginia who were planning a terrorist attack at a high school prom over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Michael Coleman, 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist attack at the Bayside High School prom in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on June 9, police announced Monday.
The teens were taken into custody after police found a semi-automatic rifle in a room they shared at The Westin Hotel in Town Center, where prom was taking place last Saturday evening.
The suspects were not affiliated with the school, but they were placed under police watch after they purchased tickets to the prom.
“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 said Monday.
“Based on this information the police department and the school safety department developed an enhanced security plan for the prom.”
Officers said they tried to approach the 17-year-old, whose identity was withheld as a minor, as prom was taking place, but he took off on foot and tossed a handgun as he fled, police said.
Police said they located him later that night, along with Coleman and the semi-automatic rifle, while executing a search warrant in a room in the hotel.
Police charged the 17-year-old with possession of a weapon and conspiracy to carry out a terrorist threat. Coleman, who had charges pending for an unrelated case, was arrested and charged with two counts of trying to conceal a weapon and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. It’s unclear if they have obtained attorneys.
The Virginia Beach Police Department said the arrests were examples of “how far and above” the department goes to protect the city.