Maplewood Police, District Seek to Dispel Rumors after Two Weapons Incidents

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Police and the South Orange – Maplewood School District are working to quell rumors that have swirled since two students were taken into custody for bringing weapons to school this week, one at Maplewood Middle School and the other at Columbia High School.

Rumors of planned violence at both schools were rampant on social media, leading some parents to elect to keep their children home from school Friday and anxiety among some students. As of mid-afternoon, there were no incidents of violence at either school, said a district spokeswoman. “It’s been a quiet day.”

(A total of 288 students were absent from CHS Friday out of a total school population of 1,893. At MMS, 36 students were absent out of a total of 808, said the spokeswoman.)

Maplewood Police said Friday that the two recent incidents were unrelated and that their investigation into the incident where a 7th grader at Maplewood Middle School brought a loaded handgun to school Wednesday has not uncovered a “hit list” of specific targets.

MMS administrators emailed parents Friday afternoon to “reassure [them] that students are safe and going about their usual daily routine.” In response to anxiety among some students, Asst. Supt. Susan Grierson, and Assistant Principals Louis Brown and Marc Gold met with all students to address the rumors and “to assure [them] that there is no code red and that the school is safe.”

Police officers are on-site at the school, although they have “no expectation of any problems or threat of violence.”

Police also said they had no information about planned violence at Columbia High School, which was on a Code Yellow lockdown Thursday after a student was found with an airsoft gun and a kitchen knife.

Despite the fact that police issued a similar statement Thursday night, and said that they would deploy extra patrols at the school as a precaution, some parents were spooked enough that they elected to keep their children home from CHS Friday.

“It’s not like us, but we’re not sending [our child], said one parent of a freshman Thursday night. “It’s been too weird of a week.” She continued, “We feel the staff and administration are doing everything they can and the school needed a quiet day to let the negative energy dissipate.”

Here is the full release from the Maplewood Police Department.

The following is additional information regarding the incidents involving weapons at the Maplewood Middle School (06/03/15) and Columbia High School (06/04/15).

Investigation has determined the incidents at the schools are unrelated. In both cases, school staff was provided information regarding possible weapons in the schools. The Maplewood Police Department was contacted and the appropriate measures were taken to ensure the safety of students and staff. In both cases, the juveniles involved were arrested and subsequently remanded to The Essex County Juvenile Detention Center.

Contrary to rumor, there was no “hit list” recovered during the investigation for the incident at the Maplewood Middle School and there has been no information that there will be future fights involving weapons at Columbia High School. As a precautionary measure, additional patrols have been assigned to the area of the High School.

Due to the ongoing investigation for both incidents, no additional information is available at this time.

Here is the email from MMS:

Dear MMS Community:

We are aware that there are many different rumors circulating about possible threats at Maplewood Middle School today. We want to reassure you that students are safe and going about their usual daily routine.

Susan Grierson, Assistant Superintendent, and Assistant Principals Louis Brown and Marc Gold are meeting with all students by grade level to address the rumors, and to assure students that there is no code red and that the school is safe. Police officers are also on-site to reassure students that, although they have no expectation of any problems or threat of violence, there are additional patrols around Maplewood Middle School to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

If your child is feeling anxious, there are counselors available throughout the day with whom they can speak privately about their feelings or concerns. Students can request this assistance themselves, or you can contact a guidance counselor, teacher or administrator so that we can connect them to one of the social workers.

We understand that this is a very stressful time, and that we are all concerned about the safety of our students and our schools. We appreciate your partnership in helping every MMS student feel safe and supported.


James Memoli                   Jerrill Adams

Acting Superintendent    Principal of Maplewood Middle School

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