ATTLEBORO - One of the men accused of plotting an armed attack on Attleboro High School told police the Facebook postings authorities viewed as a threat began when he had an argument with a girl, not because he was upset with the school.
Natick Sands, 18, and Ryan Ringuette, 20, both of Attleboro, pleaded not guilty in Attleboro District Court today to the threatened use of a dangerous weapon at a school. Some relatives and friends appeared to be crying as they watched the proceedings.
According to an Attleboro police report filed in court, Sands spoke with police after being arrested Monday. He told them he had an argument with a girl and then vented his feelings on Facebook, which included the phrase, “people wonder why I talk about random mass killing sprees all the time… fed up…’’
Sands and Ringuette then had a Facebook conversation that included a discussion of how they would carry out an armed attack and who they would attack with deadly violence as they rushed into Attleboro High School.
Authorities said today no weapons were found in a search of the homes where the two men are living.
In an interview at her Pine Street home, Sands’s mother, Leighanne Coriaty, said her son told her he was “mad and ... blowing off steam’’ when he had the Facebook conversation with Ringuette.
Coriaty also applauded the Attleboro High student who police said alerted them to the online chat between the two men on Monday.
“I do respect the person that called it in,’’ she said, adding that if she were a high school student “that would scare the daylights out of me.’’
Coriaty also said, “I wish I could apologize to the community and the school.’’
Coriaty described herself as a single mother trying her best to steer her son in the right direction. But, she added, the new charges are something her son will have to deal with himself.
“This is one mess that mommy cannot clear up,’’ she said.
Relatives of Ringuette and friends of the two men insisted outside court today that they committed an error in judgment, not a criminal act deserving imprisonment.
“He’s a good kid who just messed up,’’ Bernie Ringuette said of his son before the court appearance.
But Bristol Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Reynaud said in court that Sands, who attends night school at Attleboro High, is on probation for an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon case in Quincy District Court.
That, she said, was proof that he has “violent behavior in his past.’’
Ringuette, whose Facebook page says he graduated last year from Attleboro High, is also on probation after being prosecuted in 2010 and last year on charges of drug possession, according to court records.
Reynaud argued that there is no innocent explanation for what the two men allegedly posted on Facebook, especially in light of the murders of three high school students in Ohio last week.
“There is just no excuse,’’ she told District Court Judge Daniel O’Shea.
O’Shea appeared to agree. He set bail at $7,500 cash for each man, ordered them not to use the Internet or social media, and criticized any claims of innocence.
“There’s no such thing as a false claim under these circumstances,’’ the judge said from the bench.
Both men are due back in court March 19.
Globe Correspondent Dan Adams contributed to this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.