The mother of the 14-year-old boy charged with plotting a Columbine-style attack on a Montgomery County high school bought not one but three weapons for her son, prosecutors said yesterday.

Meanwhile, another 14-year-old who tipped police to the threatened attack found himself praised by classmates and law enforcement.

The day offered a stark contrast between the suddenly upside-down worlds of the two teenagers and their families.

Dillon Cossey, 14, and his mother, Michele, both face criminal charges, while Lewis Bennett III and his parents were being thanked for tipping police to Dillon Cossey's alleged plan to attack Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

The Bennetts went to police after Dillon Cossey approached Lewis Bennett this week and tried to enlist him in the plan, police said.

Officials are uncertain whether Cossey would have acted on his threats. No ammunition for the firearms has been found.

Lewis Bennett's mother, Terry, said the two teenagers were "acquaintances" rather than friends. The parents said they did not know what prompted Dillon's solicitation of their son, and they declined to reveal the boys' conversation because of the pending case.

The families live within a few blocks of each other in Plymouth Township.

Dillon Cossey appeared in Montgomery County Juvenile Court yesterday morning and was ordered to receive a psychological evaluation. He remains in custody.

The Cosseys had removed Dillon from the Colonial School District about 18 months ago because he had been bullied. Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said the boy's obesity may have made him a target.

Lewis Bennett also was subjected to teasing in middle school, but he was "smart enough" to seek help, his mother told reporters yesterday.

Bennett returned to classes at Plymouth Whitemarsh yesterday, where students said discussions had shifted from fears about Dillon Cossey to cheers for Bennett.

"Everyone is walking around saying, 'Thank God for Lewis Bennett,' " said freshman Jason Weisbaum.

Praise for son

The Bennetts held a news conference to applaud the actions of their son, law enforcement and school officials - and discourage the media from lining their street.

Court documents say Dillon Cossey "admitted to plans" for "a Columbine-type shooting" at Plymouth Whitemarsh. Police seized a large collection of weapons from the boy's bedroom Wednesday night, including a 9mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope, swords, daggers, 30 BB guns, and at least three homemade grenades.

Police said Michele Cossey bought the semiautomatic rifle on Sept. 23 at the Valley Forge Gun Show in King of Prussia.

Dillon Cossey told police that his mother had earlier bought him a .22 handgun and a single-shot .22 rifle.

The .22-caliber firearms were not in the family's possession when police arrested the teenager Wednesday night. Plymouth Township Deputy Chief of Police Joe Lawrence said the mother had given them to a friend so her husband, Frank Cossey, 56, would not know about them.

The friend turned them over to police on Thursday, the court documents said.

Tried to buy gun

Frank Cossey, whose truck advertises his home-inspection business, had tried to buy his son a gun in 2005, but came under scrutiny because of a 1981 manslaughter conviction in an Oklahoma drunken-driving case, court records said. Cossey spent about five years in prison.

In May, he was sentenced to house arrest for failing to disclose his conviction when he tried to buy the rifle.

At Michele Cossey's arraignment, her attorney, Tim Woodward, said his client was "not physically well," but declined to elaborate. She required the assistance of detectives and a walker to get into the courtroom, passing more than a dozen cameras in the process.

She nervously bit her fingernails as District Judge Francis J. Bernhardt III read the charges. She made no remarks, except to acknowledge that she understood the proceedings. Her husband sat silently in the back row.

Bernhardt set bail at $50,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 17.

Michele Cossey is the daughter of Eve Mashett, who ran Eve's Lunch, a luncheonette in the Sandy Hill Shopping Center in Norristown, from 1965 until 2001.

Attorney's view

Dillon Cossey's attorney, J. David Farrell, said he did not believe the evidence supported "a Columbine in the making."

"There was never any imminent danger of harm," he said. "The gun was never used in an unlawful manner."

Farrell said the youth is "intelligent, he's articulate, he understands the gravity of these offenses."

He said he hoped to convince Castor that "there's nothing to gain by petitioning to certify" his client as an adult. Castor said he was reviewing the law and expected to meet with Farrell next week.

At Plymouth Whitemarsh, where worried parents pulled their children out of school a day earlier, students described a return to their routines.

"Things just went back to normal," said Matt Cifolelli, 14, a freshman.

About 100 students more than usual were absent yesterday, said David Sherman, the Colonial School District's community relations coordinator.

Lewis Bennett's father, Lew Bennett Jr., a nurse-anesthetist and Drexel University professor, said he and his wife were gratified that their son felt he could confide in them.

"He did the right thing. We're really proud of him," said Lew Bennett. "We, as parents, need to slow down and listen to our children."

Terry Bennett, a nurse by training who works at a preschool, described Dillon as "polite, quiet and softspoken," but said he seemed preoccupied with guns. She said that during the boys' three-year off-and-on relationship, she had minimal contact with Dillon's parents.

"The suspect is a socially maladjusted boy who doesn't have real close friends," Castor said.

Castor said police had interviewed other boys who associated with Dillon to determine whether they might have been involved in his plans.

"There are no pieces to the plot that are unresolved," Castor said.

Castor said he agreed that Lewis Bennett III's actions were commendable, but he said the pending case limited his ability to act on that sentiment now.

"I consider this guy a hero," he said. "Hanging a medal on him will have to wait."