NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) – A report of two men with a gun outside Halstead Middle School in Newton Tuesday prompted a shelter-in-place until police determined that there was no threat.
At around 2:20 p.m. 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, according to Newton Police Chief Michael Richards.
It was later determined that the individuals were not armed and had a legitimate purpose for being at the school, Richards said.
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.
“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,” Richards said.
“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,” Newton Superintendent Dr. G. Kennedy Greene ssaid.
Police officers and crossing guards were also assigned to intersections to ensure the students would get home safely after dismissal, Richards said.
Assisting at the scene was the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office, NJ State Police, Hardyston Police, Andover Township Police, and NJ Park Police.