PLUMSTED – Township police and county investigators have arrested a teen they say threatened to stage a shooting at the New Egypt High School graduation ceremony Thursday, and was actively seeking a gun to carry out his plan.
Matthew V. Vanderbeek, 19, of Plumsted is facing charges of making terroristic threats and attempting to buy a gun for an illegal purpose, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutor’s office Detective Brant Uricks and Plumsted police Detective Anthony Ringle investigated the threat, identified Vanderbeek “as the suspect who allegedly utilized social media to communicate his intention to shoot school students and staff” and obtained a warrant to search Vanderbeek’s Hyacinth Court home for guns, wrote Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.
Investigators verified that Vanderbeek had been behind the threats, Della Fave said, “and found additionally that he was attempting to obtain a firearm.”
Investigators took Vanderbeek into custody “without incident” and sent him to the Ocean County Jail in Toms River pending a court appearance, Della Fave said.
Superintendent Gerald North wrote a letter to parents advising them that, “weather permitting,” the ceremony would go on outdoors as planned.
“There will be an increased police presence at the graduation ceremony. We, as always, have the safety and security of our students first and foremost in our decision making,” North wrote. “Please understand this situation was dealt with promptly and professionally to insure the safety at, as well as the memories from the graduation of the Class of 2018.”
Police all over the state have ramped up training to deal with school shooters. Watch raw video from one such training session in Manasquan at the top of this article, or check out photos of another drill in Berkeley below.