Two young Black men in Virginia Beach are accused of plotting a terrorist attack at a high school prom, police say.
Michael Coleman, 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old young man were charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist attack during Bayside High School’s prom, according to ABC News.
At a press conference on Monday, Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera said the department received information about two people who were not enrolled at the school attempting to purchase tickets to prom at the Westin Hotel. Police, who thought that detail was peculiar, later discovered that Coleman made threats against specific people within Bayside High’s school zone, reports WAVY, a CNN affiliate.
“As a result, the school and VBPD developed an enhanced security plan for the prom. The school division conducted internal security while the police department handled external security at the hotel and surrounding parking garages,” said Cervera.
On prom night, a police officer approached Coleman as he exited the hotel, but the suspect threw down a handgun before fleeing the scene. Coleman was arrested in nearby Norfolk for an unrelated firearm charge, authorities said.
After obtaining a search warrant for Coleman’s room, police found the 17-year-old suspect and confiscated a .45-caliber semi-automatic rifle.
“I am grateful to the Virginia Beach Police Department and the school division’s Office of Safety and Loss Control who partnered with us to take the necessary steps to ensure our students could safely enjoy their senior prom,” the school’s principal Jim Miller told WAVY. “Now, it is time for us to turn our attention to this week’s final exams and, of course, graduation.”
Coleman is scheduled to appear in Virginia Beach Court on June 18.