Just a few hours after a gun massacre took place on the campus of Virginia Tech last Monday morning, an unrelated BB gun-related incident occurred outside of the Anna L. Klein School, Guttenberg’s only elementary school.
According to Police Lt. Joel Magenheimer, Guttenberg police apprehended a 14-year-old student from Fairview and charged him with possession of an illegal firearm.
The teenager allegedly brandished the gun, later found to be a BB gun, during an altercation with a Klein School student.
The teenager’s name is being withheld because he is a juvenile.
According to Magenheimer, the incident took place outside Klein School around 1 p.m. Monday, after the Klein School students were dismissed from classes because of a half-day session.
“Our patrol car was flagged down by the crossing guard near the school, who told the police officer that there was going to be a fight,” Magenheimer said.
Police Officer Franco DeLucia got out of his patrol vehicle to investigate the situation and found a circle of kids on Hudson Avenue, around the corner from the front entrance of the school.
“When Officer DeLucia approached the kids, they broke up and started to run away,” Magenheimer said. “Officer DeLucia saw one of the kids stuff the gun into the hip of his pants. He first started walking away, then ran away. Officer DeLucia saw that the kid had the gun under his belt. He chased the kid in foot pursuit and eventually caught him on 68th Street.”
Started on MySpace
DeLucia took the juvenile into custody and brought him to the police headquarters. It was learned there that the teenager was from Fairview and not a student at Klein School.
“Apparently this kid had no school that day,” Magenheimer said.
In investigating the teenager and the Klein School student who was the center of the altercation, police found out that the two teens were apparently going at each other over the Internet on the website, www.myspace.com.
On that site, kids post their profiles and can leave messages for each other.
“Apparently, the two were having some sort of dispute over the internet and were going to settle it after school,” Magenheimer said. “The victim gave a statement that said the kid from Fairview [allegedly] came after him after school and pointed a gun.”
The Fairview teen was taken to the Hudson County Youth House in Secaucus, after being charged with possession of an illegal weapon and possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school.
The matter was scheduled to be heard in Hudson County Juvenile Court after press time Thursday.
The Klein School student involved in the altercation was not charged. Police said that he cooperated with them in the matter.
Klein School Principal/Superintendent of Schools Robert Tholen said that most of his student body was not aware of any gun-related incident, because the altercation took place after classes were dismissed Monday.
“It happened after school, after dismissal time,” Tholen said. “Some kids were hanging out on the corner and a student from another district started the incident, and as it turned out, he had a gun. The police took care of everything. The only ones who knew about it were myself and the kids involved.”
Tholen was asked if he spoke to the student body about the incident.
“I didn’t see the need to sensitize the students any further,” Tholen said. “It would have created unnecessary anxiety, especially when this child had no affiliation with our school whatsoever.”
Tholen said that the safety of the students at Klein School was never breached in the incident.
“We always have every one of our entrances and exits monitored,” Tholen said. “There’s always security there.”
Tholen said that the students are taught about the dangers of weapons during their regular curriculum and DARE classes.
“We do address the issue,” Tholen said. “It’s addressed throughout the year.”
The school is starting a Junior Police Academy this week to get more students involved with law enforcement.
Tholen said that he was not aware that there was ongoing banter between his student and the Fairview teen over the Internet.
“I spoke with the student and did followups with him, and he never mentioned anything like that to me,” Tholen said. “The police never told me that there were prior online conversations between the two teens. From my vantage point, we will further investigate the matter and speak to the student and his parents to see what’s going on. But we can’t have talk of students bringing guns to school. It is scary.”
Especially in light of what transpired in Virginia that same day.