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Two terrorism charges dropped against teens in alleged prom plot

Posted at 2:18 PM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 14:18:57-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Prosecutors dropped a terrorism related charge against 18-year-old Michael Coleman, who appeared in court Friday for an incident connected to a high school prom on June 11, in Virginia Beach.

The high school prom was held at the Westin Hotel at the Virginia Beach Town Center.

Prosecutors announced the decision to abandon the charge during a hearing,  due to a lack of evidence at this time, WTKR reported.

Coleman's defense claims the police department jumped the gun with that charge.

"I'm a little disappointed that the police department brought that charge in the first place," Kristin Paulding said. “I don’t think Michael has any ties to the Bayside community that would want to make him harm anyone at the Bayside Prom or at the school.”

Prosecutors will be moving forward with two concealed weapons charges.

"This a bell that can’t be unsung for Michael. He has been as a school shooter. This has been compared to a Las Vegas type situation," Paulding explained.

Coleman's bond was denied and he is set to be back in court in August.

In June the terrorism related charge was also dropped against the second suspect who is a 17-year-old.

Police arrested the teens in early June. They said the two made a threat against the Bayside High School prom. The two were originally charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

The incident

Sometime around May 30, police received information that some individuals not associated with Bayside High School wanted to buy prom tickets to the event held at the Westin Hotel at the Town Center.

“It was kind of unusual for us that someone not associated with the high school to want to show up to the event,” said Virginia Beach Police Chief Cervera.

Police and the school resource officers developed a tight, internal security plan for the prom and police also focused on external security at the hotel and surrounding Town Center.

Though the officer didn’t release many specific details of the investigation, he said that law enforcement noticed a connection between this case and one of recent acts of violence.

Officers were assigned all around the area.

Based on the investigations, an individual who had sought access to the prom was identified. When officers went to approach the individual, he ran.

Police said he discarded a Taurus 9-millimeter handgun. The individual got away but police obtained enough information to obtain a search warrant at the Westin Hotel.

Police seized a 45-caliber semi-automatic rifle with a loaded clip, and additional ammunition, from the hotel room of the 17-year-old male.