SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The five schools that comprise the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools (UCVTS) campus went into lockdown for about two hours on Friday afternoon when an unidentified individual who admitted carrying a pocket knife entered the complex.
Located on Raritan Road in Scotch Plains, the VoTech school district is comprised of Academy for Allied Health Services, Academy for Information Technology (AIT), Academy for Performing Arts, Union County Magnet School, and Union County Vocational-Technical High School.
The incident began around 1:15 p.m. when a staff member of the campus's West Hall building notified the main office that there was a person who was not identifiable in the building, according to a letter sent to parents from Peter Capodice, Superintendent of UCVTS.
The Sheriff's Officer at UCVTS was notified immediately. When the individual was questioned, he admitted to having a pocket knife, would not identify himself and became uncooperative. Additional police backup was called, and the UCVTS campus was placed in lockdown, according to Capdice's letter.
The intruder was arrested and removed from the building. It is unclear how he entered in the first place, as all UCVTS students are required to have ID badges.
Parents were initially informed of the situation via the following Honeywell Alert text.
UCVTS is in a lock down, all students and faculty are safe. We will send an update when it is over.
Additionally, while the schools were in lockdown mode, a UCVTS student received text messages from a fellow student, who was not in school at the time.
"The nature of the texts were threatening, displayed gun emojis and were of increasing concern," according to Capodice's letter. To ensure student safety, the Union County Sheriff's Office, Union County Police, Scotch Plains Police and the Union County Police Academy responded and provided each building with police presence.
The texts in the second incident originated off-campus, and "appropriate law enforcement action has been taken," according to the letter sent to parents at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, parents concerned for their children's safety were critical of the lack of communication following the initial Honeywell Alert, which said there would be an update when the incident was over. No followup Honeywell alerts went out to parents to announce the end of the lockdown after the students were released.
TAPintoSPF has reached out to the Union County Sheriff's office for further information and will continue to update this story as details become available.