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Police thwart attempted terrorism against prom at Virginia Beach Town Center

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Two people were arrested for conspiring to commit a terrorist act during Bayside High School's prom at Virginia Beach Town Center over the weekend, Virginia Beach Police announced Monday.

At a press briefing, the chief of police said the department received a community tip on May 30 that some people not associated with the school were trying to purchase tickets to the school's prom at Westin Hotel Town Center, which took place from 6-10 p.m. Saturday.

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.

An adult, 18-year-old Michael Coleman, wanted to attend the prom. When police approached him, he ran and discarded a 9mm handgun in the process. Although he was not apprehended that night, authorities got information from social media for a search warrant of a hotel room.

Coleman was later charged with Conspiracy to Commit a Terrorist Act.

After entering the hotel room, police identified a 17-year-old suspect and confiscated a 45 caliber semi-automatic rifle, which led to charges of Conspiracy to Commit a Terrorist Act and Possession of a Weapon as a Juvenile.

The chief of police told News 3 the terrorism charge is "due to the totality of the investigation and the weapons involved" but was unable to elaborate.

Police do not know if the suspects were specifically targeting anyone. Officers worked hard and acted quickly to keep students safe.

According to court documents, although Coleman did not complete high school, he has a G.E.D. For the last three months, court documents say he has been working at BAE Systems.

The documents also say Coleman has been cooperating with the magistrate since his arrest.

He is scheduled to appear in Virginia Beach Court on June 18.

The 17-year-old is being held at a detention facility. He is scheduled to appear in court next on June 27.

Stay with News 3 app for updates. 

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