A teenager plotted with another to pull off a Columbine-style attack on his former high school, authorities on New York's Long Island said Tuesday — the second time in three years he has been accused of such a plot.
Christopher Franko, who turned 18 on Tuesday, was ordered held without bail after his court-appointed attorney entered a not guilty plea to felony conspiracy. Franko and a female friend were arrested in early May on misdemeanor conspiracy, but a grand jury voted to upgrade the charges.
Franko's girlfriend, Dana Saltzman, 16, was arrested on Apri 30 and cops said evidence on her computer and phone showed they were planning to attack the school.
The teens were plotting to attack Connetquot High School this Thursday with shotguns and explosives, prosecutors said. Their plan was to kill a security guard in front of the school, then go inside and shoot as many students as possible, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said. Once police arrived at the school, the pair planned to fire at officers before ultimately killing themselves, the prosecutor added.
Their plot was thwarted in part when their attempts to purchase a shotgun at a local sporting goods store were rejected because neither teen was 18. Prosecutors say Franko intended to return to the store on Tuesday to make the purchase.
Kurtzrock said he could not explain a motive, other than Franko had apparently been teased by classmates — a slight he never forgot.
"He's definitely a danger," Kurtzrock said, adding that the case is "chillingly similar" to Franko's arrest in 2007 as a juvenile on charges of plotting to attack the school.
That case was handled in Family Court; Franko left Connetquot High School and graduated from a special-education program where he met the girl, who is still a student.
She is expected to be arraigned this month on the same felony conspiracy count.
A court-appointed attorney from Legal Aid, John Schick, entered the not guilty plea on behalf of Franko. He said he had only been assigned to the case on Tuesday and needed to research the allegations further.
"Quite obviously there may be quite a few extenuating circumstances that could surface," he told Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow.
If convicted, Franko could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.