Wednesday, November 28, 2001

BOSTON (AP) A 17-year-old girl, who authorities say agreed to take part in a Columbine-style massacre at her school but spilled the secret by warning her favorite teacher that the woman was in danger, was charged yesterday with conspiracy to commit murder.

Amy Lee Bowman, who pleaded not guilty, was the fourth teen-ager charged in what authorities said was a plan to smuggle guns under black trench coats into the school and emerge from a bathroom shooting to kill.

Three other students brothers Eric McKeehan, 17, and Michael McKeehan, 15; and Steven Jones, 15 were charged earlier in the plot to kill “thugs, preps and faculty” at New Bedford High School. They pleaded not guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit murder, possession of ammunition and other charges.

An unidentified 16-year-old is scheduled for arraignment today on the same charges, police said.

Unlike the other defendants, Miss Bowman was released pending her next court appearance, on Dec. 17. “Sometimes we have to treat people differently based on the circumstances,” prosecutor Raymond Veary said.

Authorities said the students modeled themselves after the two teen-agers who carried out the 1999 Columbine High School massacre near Littleton, Colo. Fifteen persons, including the two suicidal gunmen, were killed.

Miss Bowman agreed to smuggle in guns and take part in the shooting, but tipped off her favorite teacher, Rachel Jupin, about the details of the plan because she did not want to see the woman killed, police said.

Miss Jupin contacted the assistant headmaster, who eventually turned the matter over to police. Police questioned Miss Bowman, and the teen-ager disclosed the plot, authorities said.

Police also learned of the plan through a note discovered by a janitor and other evidence. School and city officials said they believed the plan probably would have gone forward if authorities had not intervened.

The McKeehans and Mr. Jones planned to videotape their killing spree, then climb onto the school’s roof to smoke marijuana, drink alcohol and perhaps take LSD before shooting each other, police said.

The students were arrested at their homes on Saturday.

Miss Bowman had stopped attending the school about a month before her arrest and had begun going to school in nearby Plymouth, Superintendent Joseph Silva said.

Her attorney, Andrew Peppard, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Dozens of officers and five bomb-sniffing dogs had searched the school but found nothing. Nearly half of the 3,300 students stayed home from school on Monday, but 86 percent of students, a little lower than the average attendance, were in classes yesterday.

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