PLUMSTED – A teenager who threatened to shoot up a high school graduation will now be charged with terrorism, police said.
Matthew Vanderbeek, 19, of Cream Ridge, was already facing charges of 3rd degree Terroristic Threats with a Threat to Kill and 2nd degree Attempting to Possess a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, police said.
The terrorism charge came later because the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office needed written authorization from State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, police said. Terrorism is a first degree offense punishable by 30 years to life in prison.
He allegedly utilized social media to threaten that he was going to shoot students and staff at the graduation ceremony at New Egypt High School, where he went to school.
The investigation let officers to his Hyacinth Court residence to check for weapons, additional evidence of the crime and to attempt to seize any communications made via phone or computer. Through investigation, officers found no weapons but learned that he was attempting to obtain a firearm.
He had been taken into custody without incident and no persistent danger was present at the school, police said.