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Teen accused of threatening to attack graduation had friend drive him to gun shop

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Matthew Vanderbeek is accused in a school shooting plot. Matthew Vanderbeek is accused in a school shooting plot.
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A 19-year-old charged for threatening to attack his high school graduation had a friend drive him to the gun shop earlier in the month.

According to an affidavit from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Matthew Vanderbeek asked a friend to drive him to Pineland Sporting Goods in Jackson Township to buy a gun. Vanderbeek allegedly told that friend that he was going to “shoot up” New Egypt High School on graduation day.

The affidavit states that the friend told Vanderbeek to get out of his car and walk home. Officials did not say if Vanderbeek walked home or continued on to the gun shop.

Vanderbeek is facing terroristic threat charges after officials say he made plans to attack the graduation ceremonies. Authorities took Vanderbeek into custody after a student alerted officials of Vanderbeek’s alleged plans.

RELATED: Police: Student helps thwart potential shooting at graduation

Authorities issued a search warrant of Vanderbeek’s home but did not find any weapons or ammunition.

Officials also say that Vanderbeek was previously suspended from New Egypt High School after he allegedly made threats to attack Brick Vocational School, where he also attended classes.

According to an affidavit from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Vanderbeek was suspended for nine days from New Egypt High school and permanently removed from Brick Vocational School after he made threats to “shoot up” the school. 

A student apparently told officials that she heard Vanderbeek say he would attack graduation at Brick Vocational and that “the safe color to wear is orange.”

Multiple students also showed the vocational school’s principal social media posts Vanderbeek allegedly made that were derogatory toward the school and teachers, according to the affidavit.

Vanderbeek allegedly also posted a video on Snapchat that featured a clip form the TV show “South Park” with a caption of “Where do you see yourself in 10 years.” During the video, characters in the show are shown with rifles and loading a gun. At the end of the video, there was a caption that read, “I see myself dead in the end,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states that Vanderbeek also posted another Snapchat with a green and black biohazard symbol and a caption that made reference to a bible verse that talks about “ending the world and killing people.”

Vanderbeek is also said to have dyed his hair red and told friends that he did it because he was influenced by a school shooter that had red hair, according to the affidavit.

Thursday’s graduation ceremony saw increased security but it went on without a hitch.

Vanderbeek is expected to have his first court appearance Monday.

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