Maplewood Police Arrest Man Who Demanded Money, Cell Phone From MMS Student

by The Village Green
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Maplewood Police arrested an 18-year-old Belleville man yesterday after he threatened an 8th grade Maplewood Middle School student on his way to school.

The boy said that he was approached by the man near Valley Street and the Crescents where the man demanded money and to borrow his cell phone, then threatened to injure the boy if he did not comply.

The student ran to school where he reported the incident to school administration who contacted the police.

The boy gave such a good description that Maplewood Police Officer James DeFazio and Sean Gearren were able to apprehend the suspect on Prospect Street. The suspect was then positively identified, arrested and charged with attempted robbery, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), and intent to distribute said CDS.

Read the letter from the South Orange-Maplewood School District and the release from the Maplewood Police Department below.

From the South Orange-Maplewood School District:

This morning, while walking to school one of our students was approached by an adult who demanded money and the student’s cell phone.  This took place approximately ¼-mile away from school, and there was no weapon involved. The student ran away and went directly to MMS, where he immediately told the office staff about the incident.  The police were called in, and with the permission of the student’s family, the student provided a statement. Soon thereafter the Maplewood Police Department apprehended the man.

We are very grateful to the student for quickly reporting what had happened, to the family for supporting us in dealing with the incident, and to the Maplewood Police Department for their swift response and action.

Over the weekend, we encourage you to find time to talk to your children about how to stay safe, especially if they walk to school.  Safe travel practices include:

  • Walking with a friend whenever possible;
  • Being on time for school so that crossing guards and other police officers are present and monitoring safety; and
  • Immediately informing school administrators and/or law enforcement personnel should anything suspicious or threatening occur.

Our primary concern continues to be the health, safety and well-being of our entire school community.  We therefore have plans in place to have additional school social workers on-site at MMS on Monday, and available as needed in the coming days. If your child shows signs of stress in reaction to this incident, please notify his or her guidance counselor, the school social worker, or a member of the administrative team so that we can provide additional support.

Thank you for your partnership in keeping our schools and our community safe.

South Orange Maplewood School District

Download (PDF, 41KB)

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