CBSN

Bomb Suspect Faces 100 Years

A booking photo of 19 year-old Al DeGuzman was provided by the San Jose Police Department on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2001, in San Jose, Calif.
AP
A 19-year-old California student who allegedly plotted a "Columbine-style" murder spree across his college campus pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 122 criminal charges.

Al DeGuzman could face more than 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts linked to Tuesday's alleged plot, which police say was thwarted at the last minute thanks to a tip from a photo lab clerk who grew alarmed at pictures of DeGuzman with guns, pipe bombs and other weaponry.

DeGuzman, who appeared handcuffed, shackled and chained at the waist, said nothing during his brief arraignment at Santa Clara County Superior Court.

His lawyer, Craig Wormley, said after the arraignment that his client had "an innocent fascination" with bombs, and accused law enforcement of "a rush to judgment of a man who has no prior criminal history whatsoever."

Police arrested DeGuzman Monday as he arrived at a San Jose drug store photo department to pick up a roll of pictures that apparently depicted him displaying weapons and explosives. The clerk, the daughter of a local police officer, had grown uneasy over the pictures and phoned the authorities.

"They showed guns, pipe bombs and then the bombs being molotov cocktails," the clerk, Kelly Bennet, said of the photos. "There's actually nails taped to the pipe bombs, which is disgusting."

Even DeGuzman's clothing made her suspicious.

"There was a shirt that said natural selection on it, and I know the whole theory, survival of the fittest, only the strongest will survive, " said Bennet.

She was shocked when she saw the photos for the first time.

"It was astonishing. I thought this guy was a wacko," she said.

After searching DeGuzman's room at his parent's San Jose home, police said they turned up a massive cache of arms and a detailed plan to attack the De Anza College campus in Cupertino, about 45 miles south of San Francisco, at precisely 12:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the alleged plot was centered on the school's cafeteria and could have killed as many as 50 people if it had been executed.
As a precaution police ordered the evacuation of some 12,000 people from the De Anza campus Tuesday as bomb squads swept the area looking for pipe bombs or other explosives which might have been planted in advance.

Law enforcement officials have described DeGuzman, a former high school yearbook editor, as filled with rage and hate. They say his writings repeatedly hail Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenage gunmen who killed 15 people including themselves in a bloody shooting spree at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999.

CBS Evening News Correspondent John Blackstone reports a Web site apparently prepared by De Guzman is a virtual shrine to Harris and Klebold. One quote from Harris begins: "If it moves, kill it…"

The site also contains an unsettling description by DeGuzman himself as "a walking hate crime ready to snap."

Bt a much different picture of De Guzman comes from the high school where he graduated in 1999.

"He was an above average student," said his Principal, Cari Vaeth. She says he was a year book editor and others described him as creative. One called him a "choir boy".

While DeGuzman's lawyer said his client's weapons collection and Columbine musings simply reflected an active fantasy life, the prosecutor in the case disagreed.

"People fantasize. They don't go out and collect the material to build over 60 bombs and build those bombs. That crosses the line from anything that's fantasy," Deputy District Attorney Lane Liroff said.

DeGuzman has been charged with 122 felonies, including possession of explosives, possession with intent to cause great bodily injury and possession of a sawed-off rifle and shotgun. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 108 years 8 months in prison.