Prosecutors drop terrorism related charge against teen in Virginia Beach prom case

Posted at 11:26 AM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 17:54:43-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Prosecutors dropped a terrorism related charge against a 17-year old who had been arrested following an incident at a high school prom at the Westin Hotel.

Prosecutors announced the decision to nolle-pros during a hearing Wednesday.

The teenager, whose name hasn't been released, still faces two misdemeanor gun charges and an alcohol charge. He will face trial on those charges in July and will be released on home monitoring.

Police arrested the 17-year-old and 18-year-old Michael Coleman earlier this month. They say the two made a threat against the Bayside High School prom. The two were originally charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. As of now, Coleman still faces the terrorism related charge.

Family members of the 17-year old say the teen was celebrating his recent high school graduation in a room at the Westin. Police later searched the room and say they recovered a semi-automatic rifle.

The teen's lawyer says the two were making videos on social media of them posing with guns, but says the 17-year old never meant any harm. "He was just saying stuff on the video. [Investigators] were trying to read into the video with more sinister motives than what was really going on, which is a kid making videos," said George Yates, the attorney.

The teen's family says the charges didn't add up for them. "There was no terrorist act being committed," said David McDaniel, the 17-year old's father. "I feel like it’s a very big misunderstanding."

McDaniel says his son wants to be in the Air Force some day and is hoping to soon put all of this behind him. He does acknowledge his son didn't use the best judgment in making the videos. "I think it was a mistake that's been made," McDaniel said. "It's a lesson to be learned."

Prosecutors released a brief statement about their decision on Wednesday:

"As this is an ongoing investigation and prosecution, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.  This case remains under investigation and will continue to be reviewed for any potential charges supported by the evidence."