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Threat of Armed Man on School Grounds Not Credible, Cops Say

Parsippany schools were locked down Tuesday morning for nearly an hour.

The threat of a man walking on the campus of Brooklawn Middle School wielding an assault rifle was deemed not credible by police after area schools were put on lockdown Tuesday morning, Parsippany Police Chief Paul Phillips announced.

At 10:30 a.m. officials at Brooklawn Middle School received a report of a man wearing a tan jacket and blue jeans, carrying an assault rifle, Phillips said. At that time officers proceeded to lockdown Brooklawn Middle School, Parsippany Hills High School, Littleton School, and Parsippany Christian School.

Officers then set up a perimeter around Brooklawn, and more units were stationed at the other schools to provide security, Phillips said. 

The ensuing investigation revealed no tracks in the area and a K-9 Unit could not pick up any scent, Officer Earl Kinsey said. All vehicles in the area were also checked, and the neighborhood was canvassed, with individuals in the area being interviewed, with no report of anyone fitting the description, Kinsey said.

After an investigation revealed the threat was not credible, the lockdown at all schools was lifted, Phillips said. 

The Morris County Sheriff’s Department, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris Plains Police Department, Hanover Township Police Department, Par-Troy EMS, Lake Parsippany District 3 Fire Department and Parsippany’s Office of Emergency Management all assisted in the incident.

For questions about this post, email jason.koestenblatt@patch.com.

John February 11, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Gee, how could that be possible considering assault rifles are illegal in New Jersey. You mean the oppressive gun laws here don't really stop criminals from committing crimes on school property? All sarcasm aside, this whole incident was handled poorly with the "non-threatening" baloney put out earlier today. There certainly was a reported threat and if the police/school choose to make it public they better put out a credible report next time because I'm less likely to believe them now.
Ann M February 11, 2014 at 02:34 PM
The district handled this horribly. I entrust them with my kids and they don't feel it necessary to let me know what is going on until AFTER it's all over?! And, they didn't tell the kids anything about what happened or let them know their guidance counselors are available if they need to talk! How about we also give the kids a "good job" for being so quiet and well behaved when locked in a corner for an hour and a half not knowing what was going on! Shame on the district!!
Marjorie Zambrano-Stringham February 11, 2014 at 02:54 PM
I'm disgusted by how this was handled. Our children weren't told anything, we weren't notified until it was all over. If I didn't receive a phone call from another parent I would have been clueless. Parsippany BOE & Town officials need to get it together. The police told parents to go to the library on Halsey, for a parent meeting. Meanwhile, the library wasn't told about this meeting nor did they know what was happening.
Al February 11, 2014 at 05:08 PM
I am also a student at Par Hills, and The uncertainty of the situation really shook me and probably many of my schoolmates up. Like JC, I thought the gunman was in the building, and I've never felt so helpless and scared in a place where children are supposed to be safe. In the pitch black closet I hid in, I was trying to assure my friends that it was nothing, even though I was shaking with fear. I was praying, and as time passed, the more I prayed. Thank God everyone is safe, but perhaps there should have been a way for teachers to be notified, especially when my school was not the main concern.
Dianne February 11, 2014 at 08:15 PM
The Hills students and staff where most definitely offered counseling if anyone felt the need. Yes it was scary but what people should be most concerned with is the fact that the children where and are safe. The situation unfolded in and was lifted in LESS the 2 hours the kids where back in class. The kid where and always should be the first priority. Unless you where in a school at the time you have no idea what transpired!
THERESA February 11, 2014 at 08:53 PM
While I understand the frustration of not knowing all the facts at the time this incident was occurring, keep in mind the primary focus at the time was the safety of all children and staff in the building and surrounding neighborhood. Therefore, if you are disappointed about how and when info was communicated, you need to focus on what could have been and be thankful there were no tragic events today. The priority today was ensuring the safety of all people in and around the schools - not worrying about parent backlash as to how, why and when info was sent out. Be thankful everyone was safe and move forward. A word of thanks to the first responders and the quick actions of our administrative school staff, local and county police, fire and ambulance personnel is also warranted. Their actions, training and dedication to help in a time of need must not go unrecognized, and they are an integral part of the safety and security in our community and schools.
Steve M February 11, 2014 at 09:09 PM
I am a student at Parsippany Hills and the lockdown was a success for the safety of all students and staff members. Thank God the gunman wasn't in the building and that nobody got hurt. The parents should have also been informed early that a possible incident was going to happen. Thanks to our staff, students, parents, local and county police, fire and ambulance personnel who are all warranted that no incidents occurred and that the cooperation was outstanding for the safety and security in this community and the children that attend this school district.
Jack S February 11, 2014 at 09:42 PM
In my opinion this situation was handling very poorly and unprofessionally no matter what type of spin you try and put on it. I agree that the safety of our kids and staff is of the utmost importance but that goal can be accomplished without miscommunication. Telling us that there is a "non-threatening" lock down (and little else) is an insult to our intelligence. Lets hope the PTHPD and School Council review the matter to see how it can be managed much better next time. As parents and students we deserve much better!
John Q February 12, 2014 at 01:26 AM
Wouldn't it be great if the patch could do a story about your job? Sure it would...follow me on this: They could take a bunch of half truths, leave some VERY important details out (not a dig at the patch; maybe they're not privy to every detail), let the reader's imagination run wild. and then broadcast your response to said half truths. Oh...and then leave a suggestion box (comments section) for all readers to cast their respective opinions on whether you handled your job the appropriate way...a job that we, the readers, know NOTHING about during a situation we know VERY LITTLE about. Sorry people, our kids were NEVER in danger. I think the term "lock down" scares people into believing the sky is falling. It's simply a measure to take to ensure everyone's safety while an incident is being investigated. While I'm not COMPLETELY certain, I'm ALMOST certain no threat was ever made, implied, presumed or inferred. I live in Parsippany, have two kids in the school system, and work as a police officer in a jurisdiction outside Morris County. From what I've read (and heard), the school district's and police department's response was text book for an incident like this. It wasn't just some ill-conceived, haphazard plan. From the mutual aid request to the county and surrounding agencies, to the staging area for First Responders and parents, this is a plan that is taught and practiced across the country. For those of you that felt they were misinformed: What would have happened if the police called this a "threatening" incident (although it wasn't)? You would have frantically driven to the school and potentially put yourself in harm's way, creating bigger problems for police personnel rather than allowing them to focus their efforts on protecting our kids and catching a potential bad guy. Big thanks to the affected schools today and first responders for a job well done.
Wilnj February 12, 2014 at 09:05 AM
I appreciate that these are very difficult situations to manage but to send out a half baked message is worse. They have the tools to notify the public appropriately, it takes a few seconds longer to type out the name of the affected schools instead of putting the parents of all 14 schools on edge unnecessarily.
Sue February 12, 2014 at 09:23 AM
Honesty is always the best policy. And while there are times that certain details cannot be released for security reasons, the information that was provided on this incident certainly left a lot to be desired. Being less than,shall we say, forthcoming, breeds mistrust and erodes confidence. It also produces unintended and often undesired consequences. For example, in talking with the other parents, one of our takeaways for this whole event was that we need to find out for ourselves what is going on the next time we are told there is a "non-threatening" lockdown and not to contact the school. Instead of getting defensive, let's home that the Par Police and Board of Ed review the communications protocol and come up with a better plan. If this is "by the book", we definitely need a new chapter.
Lauren February 12, 2014 at 10:47 AM
What does that mean "NOT CREDIBLE" Someone please tell me.
Wilnj February 12, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Lauren, it means they're not saying the what the person who made the initial report didn't see something but that they couldn't find the evidence to make them believe the report was accurate.
Selene February 12, 2014 at 06:03 PM
OMG you helicopter parents need to pop a Xanax.......Parsippany is one the safest communities because of our police and schools cooperating all the time. You should be a little more concerned about your child's work ethics, his/her commitment to social issues and his/her commitment to community.......

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