Harris, Neely

Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris speaks at a press conference regarding the foiled school shooting plot of two Riverbend High students at the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Agency on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely (left) also gave a statement and answered questions.

Two male Riverbend High students are in custody, accused of plotting to shoot and kill fellow students and staff members at the Spotsylvania County school.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris said Saturday that the plot was in its early stages when it was thwarted by a school resource officer, detectives and others earlier this month.

Harris confirmed that the plan involved calling in a bomb threat to the school, then shooting victims as they came outside.

“This was a serious threat, but we were able to mitigate the danger long before it presented any chance of coming to fruition,” Harris said. “There was no immediate threat to our students and faculty.”

The first student, a 17-year-old boy, was arrested Oct. 12. A 15-year-old accused of being his accomplice was arrested Friday.

The teens are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and both are being held in the Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Center. Police would not name them because they are juveniles.

Harris said no other students are believed to have been involved.

According to police, another student alerted the resource officer earlier this month to Internet threats made by the older suspect. That suspect was later charged with threatening violence by means of the Internet.

Detectives continued the investigation and found evidence linking a second student to the plot, Harris said. Search warrants were executed at the homes of both suspects.

Authorities did not immediately specify what was found at the homes, but did say the evidence led to the more serious murder conspiracy charges against both teens.

The teens are expected to be arraigned on the conspiracy charges Monday, at which time a preliminary court date most likely will be set.

Harris said school officials and the Spotsylvania Commonwealth’s Attorney Office have assisted in the ongoing investigation.

“This case was a prime example of how the coordination of [various agencies] worked together to stop an incident like this from occurring,” Harris said. “We were able to quickly and seamlessly identify a potential threat to our students and faculty.”

At a news conference Saturday at the Sheriff’s Office, officials declined to provide much more information, saying the details are part of the ongoing investigation.

They spent much of the conference praising a program in which deputies are assigned to all county high and middle schools.

“The program worked as it was supposed to,” Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pearce said. “Thanks to that, we were able to catch this long before it became a different kind of story.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Neely would not say what evidence was found in the searches of the boys’ homes, but he said they had access to firearms and were planning a mass shooting.

Neely said it is yet to be determined whether one or both teens will be tried as adults.

Authorities would not say what the suspects were upset about or if any specific targets were mentioned.

Troy Wright, principal at Riverbend, sent a note to parents commending the students who alerted school officials about the texts and social media postings that led to the investigation.

He asked parents to encourage their children to let someone know if they have concerns about a fellow student’s behavior.

“Explain that their cooperation is important for everybody’s safety,” Wright

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​Keith Epps: 540.374-5404 

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