Report of Shooting on Menzel Avenue Was False, Police Say

by The Village Green
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An incident regarding a false report of a shooting in the Lightning Brook neighborhood shook residents of the area on April 25. The following report was emailed by Maplewood Police Chief Jim DeVaul, April 25, 2022. Local resident and community activist Heather Saslovsky countered DeVaul’s characterization regarding communications around the incident. In an email sent to the Maplewood Township Committee and shared with Village Green, she wrote, “So now middle schoolers and other youth are walking home from school and there is a shooting and we have no information other than a nixle that says to ‘avoid the area’ where we live and ‘use caution’ without any detail as to what that caution would look like? The scanner remains offline. Transparency surely doesn’t exist and the TC isn’t even responsive. Shameful.” Other residents confirmed that the police scanner transmission was not available at the time of the incident. Saslovsky reports that, “I spoke with three separate officers trying to get the updated alert to go out, as well as contacting the township committee. It took too long.  The failures in communication have been persistent, for this neighborhood specifically, despite the residents and even the Mayor publicly asking the Chief to do better.” Village Green will continue to follow this story. 

From Maplewood Police Chief Jim DeVaul:

At approximately 3:40pm on this date (4/25/2022), Dispatch received a call on a PD non-emergency line (NOT 911) indicating that a shooting had just occurred on Menzel Ave. The caller stated that the “father just shot my mother in the face”. The Dispatcher attempted to gain additional information and the caller hung up. The Dispatcher was unable to re-establish contact with the caller.

Patrol Officers responded to the scene, Patrols surrounded the address and were able to make contact with those inside by using the vehicle public address system . The occupants of the home were asked to exit the home and were questioned. The occupants of the home complied without resistance. Patrols then searched the interior of the home looking additional persons and possible victims. The interior of the home was cleared with no indication that anything occurred.

There was a male (husband 39 yoa), female (wife 42 yoa) and 4 year old daughter home at the time. The call came as a complete shock to them. Detectives are investigating this as a false report to Police at this time. The victims names are being withheld for privacy reasons. It should be noted that the caller knew the names of the residents at the location.

A Nixle Alert was sent out to warn residents of possible danger. The alert was updated as soon it was determined to be a false report and Patrols cleared the scene. Calls of this type are very serious and dangerous. It could easily have led to resistance, escalation, a use of force incident, extreme stress and anxiety for all involved.

I have great compassion and empathy for the residents who must have been so scared. MFD and EMS were dispatched and staged nearby until the scene was secure. There were no requests for medical attention made at the time by the residents. I want to thank my Officers for doing an absolutely outstanding job under the circumstances in the face of such danger and having the ability to de-escalate as the scene and incident details warranted.

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