"it's exaggerated to the extreme," said Bridgewater-Raritan High School Senior Lindsay Langone, 17, about the charges against a 17-year-old high school student she said she knows well.
"He's a professional shooter...he was going to the Olympics to shoot, and to West Point," said fellow student Brittany Catalan, 17 and also a senior.
The unidentified juvenile was one of two detained by lawmen over the weekend after a tip, possibly from the 17 year old's girlfriend. The two teens were arrested after a stash or bomb-making materials was allegedly discovered in one their homes. Bridgewater-Raritan High School was temporarily closed following the scare.
Police also found firearms and shotgun shells that matched those found in the home of the 16-year-old suspect -- items they believe were going to be used to make a homemade bomb. Also found: supplies bought at a nearby Home Depot that included PVC piping, wiring, light sockets and light bulbs that could have been useful in constructing the devices.
"It's scary. You try to come to the best town, work harder, keep you kid in a safe environment. Where are you gonna go from here?" asked parent Mubina Shah.
In fact, students were told over the PA system by Bridgewater-Raritan High School Principal Dr. James Riccobono, "In this day and age, we can no longer say, 'I can't believe that something like that can happen in Bridgewater.'"
The 17 year old who wanted to go to West Point was actually a student at Immaculate High School in nearby Somerville. Officials there said police swept the school Monday morning before classes, and then told their students over the PA system to "include in our prayers the two students who were involved in the incident and their families."
Said Langone, "I can't even stress(what a good kid he is). When we get into fights, he's there to help us and everything."
Despite the protests of those students who say they knew both boys, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forest said the nature of the materials found are serious enough to charge the 17-year-old with a third degree count of possession of destructive devices.
The 16 year old reportedly faces more serious charges that include attempted murder, possession of explosives, possession of a destructive device and attempted widespread damage or injury.