CHESTERFIELD, S.C. — An 18-year-old straight-A student accused of planning to bomb his school was charged Tuesday with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a possible life sentence.
The charge is one of three federal counts Ryan Schallenberger faces in what authorities say was a scheme to detonate explosives in a suicide attack on his high school in the small town of Chesterfield.
Schallenberger also faces charges in state court, where he appeared for a hearing Tuesday.
After the hearing, Chesterfield County prosecutor Jay Hodge said investigators found a timeline for an attack in Schallenberger's journal.
Hodge said that the 50-page journal also contained attempts at self-analysis and that the teenager knew what he was planning was wrong.
"The kid needs help, but this is a violent offense," Hodge said. "You can't put an entire community in fear and just walk away. In this situation, society requires jail time. There's no way to excuse or forgive what he did."
Schallenberger was arrested on state charges Saturday. Authorities say his parents called police because he ordered 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which they retrieved after getting a delivery notice from the postal service. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that was a component in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Authorities have said Schallenberger could have assembled bombs within minutes. Police said they also discovered bombing plans, praise for the Columbine killers in his journal and an audiotape authorities say was to be played after Schallenberger died.
Defense attorney William Spencer, who was appointed for the state case, said the teen doesn't want to post bail or have a mental evaluation. Spencer said after meeting with Schallenberger a day earlier, he believed his client was competent to defend himself and understand the charge against him.
Schallenberger's mother and stepfather have not commented publicly about the case.