Four teenagers accused of plotting to kill about 25 people in a lunch-period massacre at a high school were charged Thursday under a terrorism law created after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested Wednesday after police heard about the alleged plot from administrators at the school, where three of the teens are students. Their names were not released because of their ages.
Authorities said the teens planned to attack students, teachers and others at Winslow Township High.
The four boys appeared in family court, and a judge ordered them held for psychiatric evaluations.
The father of one of the boys said the charges were a mistake: “I think it’s just kids hanging out together and having a little wild time, that’s all.”
Authorities said the boys did not have any weapons to carry out the alleged plot. But one law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they tried to buy a handgun.
The charges are serious enough that prosecutors could ask a judge to move the case to adult criminal court. Prosecutors have 30 days to consider.
No one in New Jersey has been convicted under the terrorism law, which carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison without parole.