ELIZABETH, NJ — A Superior Court appearance for the Delaware man accused of a bringing a handgun and hollow-point bullets to an elementary school in Westfield in June has been rescheduled, a state court judge said.
Thomas J. Wilkie, 46, was set to appear before Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue Thursday morning, but Wilkie’s attorney requested the pre-disposition conference be postponed, the judge said. The court has set Wilkie’s next appearance for Sept. 19, Donohue said.
The criminal complaint filed in the case charges that Wilkie entered Tamaques Elementary School on “multiple occasions … after school hours and without permission” on June 13 shortly before police found him with a loaded handgun in the school’s parking lot, where they arrested him.
Authorities charged Wilkie with third-degree possession of a firearm on school grounds, second-degree illegal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree possession of hollow-point bullets and fourth-degree trespassing on school grounds. Wilkie previously pleaded not guilty to the charges at which time his attorney requested a psychological evaluation for her client.
Thursday’s hearing would have offered Wilkie the opportunity to enter a plea before the case goes to a grand jury. New Jersey law requires that a prosecutor obtain a grand jury indictment within 90 days of charging a person.
“The purpose of the hearing today is to see if we can resolve the cases that have been filed against you,” Donohough told other defendants gathered in the courtroom.
The June 13 incident the elementary school in Westfield drew the attention of Gov. Phil Murphy who came to Westfield shortly after the arrest to tout his strategy addressing gun violence in New Jersey and called on federal lawmakers to enact stronger legislation.
The threat of an armed man at Tamaques School in Westfield had rocked the suburban community and prompted the school board look into extensive security upgrades for building entryways.
Officers arrested Wilkie after a report from the New Castle County Police Department in Delaware had told Westfield police he may be armed and suicidal in the school’s parking lot, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
Officers then found three boxes of .45 caliber bullets, two of which were full of 50 full metal jacket rounds and one box contained 20 hollow point rounds with 30 empty spaces, according to documents filed in the case.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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