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Father defends son accused in deadly plot

Ron Lovett
Ron Lovett

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Ron Lovett on his son, Matthew

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(CNN) -- Three teenagers have been arrested in New Jersey in connection with what police called a planned killing spree.

Matthew Lovett, 18, of Oaklyn, New Jersey, and two other youths, ages 14 and 15, have been charged with conspiracy to commit homicide. They were arrested early Sunday with rifles, a shotgun, several handguns, swords and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition after a report of an attempted carjacking, authorities said.

CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer talked to Lovett's father, Ron, by telephone about the charges.

HEMMER: Tell us what the story is. How do you defend your son?

LOVETT: I don't know. He was always a good kid. He just graduated with four As on his report card. And he was "most bashful" in the school yearbook. He was kind of withdrawn after his mother died. His mother left a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old when she passed away.

And I've tried my best to raise him. He's never been in trouble with the law. I had no complaints all throughout high school about his behavior. And he's never been interested in guns, never fired one, never loaded one, doesn't know how to drive a car.

And I haven't even shot -- since right when he was born, I put my handguns in a lock box and put my rifles and stuff away in the back of the closet. They've never been interested in seeing them. And now when he finally turns an adult, he takes the guns ...

HEMMER: When did his mother pass away, sir?

LOVETT: His mother passed away ... nine years ago this month.

HEMMER: Nine years ago. OK. Then tell us, did he ever talk about maybe some issues he had with classmates in school?

LOVETT: Yes, he did. Well, his brother's had like 13 surgeries involving the face and all. And when they used to go out when they were little, of course, people would pick on the brother and then Matt would have to defend him.

And so they became kind of homebodies and withdrawn because they didn't want to be out in public. You know, they didn't get along well with their peers because of his younger brother's problems.

HEMMER: I'm sorry. Can you explain? Thirteen surgeries for what?

LOVETT: He had a severe cleft palate and lip, and he still has at least one major reconstructive surgery to go.

HEMMER: One thing we're wondering here is: Where did these weapons come from? How did he get them?

LOVETT: I got my first gun ... in 1958 for my 11th birthday from my grandfather. I was never a hunter, but I've always been a target shooter. And this is a compilation of ones that I bought and ammunition that I bought on sale up until Matt was born. Most of the ammunition is between 20 and 30 years old.

And because they're saying so many rounds -- I used to buy blister packs of 500 rounds of .22s because it was cheap to shoot. And a couple of those, and you're up to 1,000 rounds.

HEMMER: Let me stop you a second. Was your son found with any of your weapons? Any of your ammunition?

LOVETT: That's all they were found with. That's all they had. He's never had -- never once let on like he was interested in firing a gun. He's never fired a gun. And I don't think he would know what ammunition to put in what chamber. ...

I've never trained him. I never had time to take him out to shoot. And he was just never interested in guns. And I was glad that he wasn't.

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