Authorities in Ocean County arrested a 19-year-old high school student who they said attempted to buy a gun after threatening to shoot up a graduation ceremony.
A warranted search and intensive investigation “verified the threats” by Matthew Vanderbeek of Cream Ridge and determined “that he was attempting to obtain a firearm,” law enforcement and school authorities said in a joint statement early Thursday afternoon.
The alleged online threat “to shoot students and staff at the [New Egypt High School] graduation ceremony” was deemed credible, Ocean Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, Plumsted Township Police Chief Earl Meroney and Plumsted Township Schools Supt. Gerald North said.
“A search warrant was approved and authorized to search Vanderbeek’s residence to check for weapons, additional evidence of the crime and to attempt to seize any communications made via phone or computer,” the statement said.
Vanderbeek, a student at the high school, was, in turn, arrested and charged with making terroristic threats to kill and attempting to possess and firearm for an unlawful purpose, they said.
He remained held in the Ocean County Jail pending a hearing.
Coronato, the prosecutor, said he wanted to “make it clear that there is no present threat to the Plumsted Township School system or the graduation ceremony.”
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