Police: Student helps thwart potential shooting at graduation

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Matthew Vanderbeek is accused in a school shooting plot. Matthew Vanderbeek is accused in a school shooting plot.
PLUMSTED -

Authorities are thanking a high school student for helping to thwart a plot to attack a high school graduation ceremony.

Plumsted Police Chief Earl Meroney says that a New Egypt High School student saw a post on social media that allegedly made threats to shoot students and staff at Thursday’s graduation ceremony.

Police investigated the threats and were led to the home of 19-year-old Matthew Vanderbeek. Officials say that investigators found evidence that Vanderbeek planned to attack the school and also found proof that the teen was trying to purchase a firearm.

Police say that Vanderbeek was arrested without incident and is being held at the Ocean County Jail.

Parents and students were made aware of the situation. Several said that they were a little apprehensive about attending the ceremony.

“It's frightening. It's the state of the world right now and it's unfortunate and I really wish that our Congress would do something to make this not an everyday happening,” says South Hampton resident Jaime Caruso.

Thursday night‘s graduation ceremony saw an increase in security but went off without a hitch.

“I'm very proud that the system worked as it is intended. From the students, to the district administration, to the Plumsted Township Police Department, to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. Everyone's prompt and professional handling of the situation averted a possible tragedy,” Superintendent Gerald North said in a statement.

Vanderbeek is expected in court Monday for a detention hearing.

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