Fourth suspect arraigned in alleged Columbine-style bomb plot; fifth teen could be next

Wednesday, November 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ A 17-year-old girl who allegedly agreed to smuggle guns into her school for a Columbine-style rampage but later leaked the plan by warning a teacher has become the fourth teen charged in the case.

Amylee Bowman pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that included conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities say she was part of a plan to smuggle guns under black trenchcoats, detonate explosives and kill as many students and faculty as possible at New Bedford High School. The plot was allegedly focused on killing ``thugs, preps and faculty.''

A fifth teen, an unidentified 16-year-old, was expected to be charged Wednesday. According to a police report, another teen, Armand Cardoso, told investigators that the suspect would point at people and indicate he was going to kill them.

Three other students _ brothers Eric McKeehan, 17, and Michael McKeehan, 15; and Steven Jones, 15 _ were charged earlier. They pleaded innocent Monday to conspiracy to commit murder, possession of ammunition and other charges.

Unlike the other defendants, Bowman was freed until her next court appearance, Dec. 17.

``Sometimes we have to treat people differently based on the circumstances,'' prosecutor Raymond Veary said.

Bowman, like Eric McKeehan, was charged as an adult. The two 15-year-olds were charged in juvenile court.

According to police, Bowman agreed to smuggle guns in and take part in the shooting, but tipped off her favorite teacher, Rachel Jupin, about the details of the plan because she did not want to see the woman killed.

Jupin contacted the assistant headmaster, who eventually turned the matter over to police. Police questioned Bowman, and the teen-ager disclosed the plot, authorities said.

Police also learned of the plan through a note discovered by a janitor and other evidence.

Bowman told police that the McKeehans and Jones planned to videotape their killing spree, then climb onto the school's roof to smoke marijuana, drink alcohol and possibly take LSD before shooting each other.

Jupin told police that Bowman is ``a good kid ... who has had a terrible life up to this point.''

Bowman had stopped attending the school about a month before her arrest and had begun going to school in nearby Plymouth, Superintendent Joseph Silva said.

Her lawyer, Andrew Peppard, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Neil Mello, 16, who was friends with the boys who were charged, told police during questioning that the teens planned to hide shotguns and other weapons under their trenchcoats and come out of a bathroom shooting.

Another boy told police that Mello had said the attackers would communicate with walkie-talkies, take photographs of the bodies, and ``just leave them hanging around.''

It was not clear if Mello was the fifth student to be charged.

The students allegedly modeled themselves after the two teen-agers who carried out the 1999 Columbine High School massacre near Littleton, Colo. Fifteen people were killed, including the two gunmen.

School and city officials said they believe the plan would probably have gone forward if authorities had not intervened.

Police searching Michael McKeehan's bedroom found satanic masks, a meat cleaver, an ax and a photograph of Adolf Hitler. They also found a bomb recipe book in a locked room in his basement, authorities said.

Police also discovered spent cartridges from five different types of guns, and torture devices.

The school opened Monday, but nearly half of the 3,300 students stayed home. Dozens of officers and five bomb-sniffing dogs had searched the school, but found nothing. On Tuesday, attendance was just slightly lower than on an average day.