'Shelter in place' at Halstead Middle School

NEWTON. Students saw what they thought might have been an armed person in the area of Halsted Middle School and reported the incident. But the person turned out to be unarmed and had reason to be in the area.

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Halsted Middle School had a "shelter in place" on Tuesday afternoon, after students told school officials they'd spotted a person possibly armed with a gun outside the school. After an hour, police determined the people in question were "not armed and had a legitimate purpose for being at the school," according to a statement by School Superintendent G. Kennedy Greene and Police Chief Michael Richards. The incident began shortly before 2:30 p.m. when the school alerted police and then police conducted a search, according to the joint statement. School authorities and the Police Chief stated the incident was handled well, and all necessary precautions were taken. Parents were kepHardyston and Andover Township police departments and New Jersey State Police, the Sussex County Sheriff's Department, and NJ Park Police assisted Newton Police during the incident.

Following, is the full press release by School Superintendent G. Kennedy Greene and Police Chief Michael Richards.

Tis afternoon shortly before dismissal, Halsted Middle School was put into a “shelter-in-place” (no one permitted in or out of the building) after several students reported to school officials that they saw two individuals outside the building who appeared to have a handgun and then left the area. It was later determined that the individuals were not armed and had a legitimate purpose for being at the school.

The Newton Police responded to the call immediately at 2:20 pm, and dismissal was delayed while they investigated. The police took appropriate precautions and conducted a thorough search. The investigation led to the identification of the individuals, who were interviewed by detectives and determined that the concerns were unfounded. Students and staff were then dismissed at 3:31 pm.

Newton Police Chief Michael Richards commented, “We appreciate the response provided by our law enforcement partners, which enabled us to conduct a search and investigation very quickly, and provide security during the entire time.”

Newton Superintendent Dr. G. Kennedy Greene stated, “I am grateful for our students who spoke up when they saw something and for all the adults involved for their patient, cautious approach to keeping everyone safe. Even though this was proven to be unfounded, our security protocols and practices worked extremely well.” Parents were kept informed by three alert messages sent by the school administration while the shelter-in-place was in effect.

Police officers and crossing guards were also assigned to intersections to ensure the students would get home safely after dismissal. Other agencies reporting to the scene included the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office, NJ State Police, Hardyston Police, Andover Township Police, and NJ Park Police.

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