OAKLYN, N.J. – Matthew Lovett (search) was known as an angry young man: He dressed all in black, drew violent pictures and walked around town with a baseball bat. Acquaintances said he kept a list of people who had teased him as far back as grade school.
Early Sunday, Lovett, 18, was arrested with two other teenagers on charges they plotted to kill three teens and open fire randomly on other people with a cache of guns and ammunition they were carrying. Lovett was being held on $1 million bail Monday.
Authorities would not discuss a possible motive, but people who knew the teens believe Lovett was fed up with the teasing that he and his younger brother had endured. James Lovett was constantly tormented for a speech impediment caused by a cleft palate, according to schoolmates.
"They'd all make fun of the way he talked," said Joe Oldham, a 14-year-old who had a class with the younger boy.
But he said he never saw Matthew Lovett teased to his face because he was intimidating -- and he was sometimes armed with a bat. Oaklyn (search) teenagers also say he practiced martial arts and had compiled a list of his enemies since elementary school.
Authorities would not confirm the existence of a list, but Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi (search) said three people believed to be intended victims were notified Sunday of the plot. He declined to identify them, but Oaklyn Police Chief Chris Ferrari indicated they were students.
People who know the teen say Matthew Lovett not only liked the science fiction movie The Matrix (search), but also dressed the part, often wearing all-black clothing and slicking back his hair.
He sometimes referred to himself as The Mystic, The One or Neo in homage to Keanu Reeves' character in the Matrix films -- high-tech thrillers where the real world is merely a facade for a darker, grimmer world where a computer hacker leads humanity in a revolt against the machines that have taken over the world.
Lovett was also such an avid player of role-playing video games that he and his friends called themselves the Warriors of Freedom after one of them.
"He wouldn't even talk," said Chris Brown, who graduated last month from Collingswood High School, as did the older Lovett. "He was just by himself."
The three teens were arrested after attempting a carjacking in this Philadelphia suburb, authorities said. They had several guns belonging to Matthew's father, including rifles, a shotgun, several handguns, swords and 2,000 rounds of ammunition.
The father, Ron Lovett, issued a statement through a family member Monday, apologizing for his son's behavior.
"I'd like to apologize to the town and the people of Oaklyn for what my son has done," Lovett said. "I'd like to ask everyone to say a prayer for Matthew. I hope he can receive the counseling he needs."
Ron Lovett, a single parent since his wife died nearly 10 years ago, had sympathy from his neighbors.
"It takes years and years of talking with your children to tell them you ignore people" who make fun of them, said Laura Doria, who with her husband owns a deli near the Lovett apartment.
The teen's uncle, Tom Crymes, said Matthew Lovett could not have carried out the alleged plan.
"He absolutely could not have followed through with that," Crymes said. "If he was determined to do that, then he would have shot at the officer" who arrested him.
All three were charged with offenses including conspiracy to commit murder.
Craig Mitnick, an attorney for Matthew Lovett, told a TV news program on Monday that his client said he "never, ever was going hurt anyone." Mitnick said the rounds of ammunition that police found were more than 20 years old and might not have detonated.
Mitnick also told the program that the teen is "a 12-year-old in an 18-year-old's body" and has a "very fragile psyche."
Authorities have not identified the two boys, ages 14 and 15. They were ordered held Monday at a youth detention center. Sarubbi said he would seek to have both tried as adults.
John Underwood, a lawyer for the 15-year-old, would not comment, and the other teen did not a have a lawyer at a hearing in juvenile court Monday.