CHESTERFIELD - More than two dozen Chesterfield High School students sat quietly Tuesday afternoon as they watched their classmate Ryan Schallenberger enter a Chesterfield County courtroom wearing a prison-issued orange jumpsuit along with handcuffs and shackles.
Those same students were the alleged target of Schallenberger, the 18-year-old honor student who has been charged with attempting to set bombs off at the school.
Schallenberger was taken into custody Saturday, hours after his parents called police. His parents had picked up a package addressed to their son at the Ruby Post Office. Inside the package was 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a material used in making explosive devices such as pipe bombs. The parents also found a 100-page journal in their son's room that detailed an alleged plot to bomb the school. It also included maps of the building and admiring notations about the Columbine killers.
"Law enforcement believes that Ryan had all the necessary materials and intent to carry out his plan," said Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald.
McDonald said that after waiving his Miranda rights, Schallenberger admitted to law enforcement that he had already made two of four pipe bombs.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers III charged Schallenberger with:
- Attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person within the United States;
- Attempting to damage and destroy by means of explosive and building and real property getting federal funds;
- Knowingly receiving by interstate commerce an explosive with knowledge or intent that it will be used to kill, injure or intimidate individuals, as well as unlawfully damage and destroy any real or personal property.
If convicted of all three federal charges, Schallenberger could face life in prison.
A state charge of making bomb threats is expected to be dropped, according to Fourth Circiut Solicitor Jay Hodge.
Schallenberger's court-appointed attorney, William O. Spencer Jr., did not ask for the state to set bond for his client, nor did he make a motion for mental evaluation.
" I am convinced he does not need to be evaluated," said Spencer. "I believe he is competent. He understands the nature of the offense and he can assist with his defense."
McDonald did not say when Schallenberger would be officially indicted.
"Our office, at the appropriate time, will seek an indictment," said McDonald.
Schallenberger is presently not under bond. Because he is in federal custody, authorities will not disclose where Schallenberger is being held.