DENVILLE, NJ - A threat made on social media prompted authorities to place Morris County Vocational School in Denville under lockdown early today. The threat was subsequently deemed to be "not credible" and nobody was harmed, authorities said.
Denville Police said the incident began at about 7:35 a.m. when they "received information reporting that an act of violence was going to occur" at the school. "At roughly the same moment in time, the school received similar information from a second source," they said.
The lockdown was initiated “as both staff and students were arriving on campus for the school day,” a measure taken to “ensure the safety of the students, staff and campus,” police said.
“All students and faculty on site-initiated lockdown procedures, safely securing themselves in classrooms,” police said. “All arriving students and faculty were turned away from the facility to return to their sending districts, home or to a supervised staging area to await further instructions from the school.”
They said an “intensive investigation” began immediately. This was done by police from Denville, Butler, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, including that office’s canine unit and bomb unit.
“During the course of this investigation, it was determined that a current threat did not exist,
police said. “As soon as this information was verified, a room to room search was conducted of the campus by law enforcement officers on scene to ensure that no threats existed and all those students and staff members currently in lockdown were unharmed.”
The search lasted almost two hours, during which time all students and staff on site were briefed on what took place, police said. “Several parents who had arrived at the school to pick up their children were then also briefed on what took place,” they noted.
School administrators decided the school day would continue after the lockdown was lifted, but students and parents were given the option to sign out of school early.
“The Denville Police Department would like to thank and commend all of the students and staff who were on site this morning for putting into practice all of their training in how to react to such a situation,” police said in a statement. “We are very fortunate that this did not turn out to be a true threat and no one was injured or worse.”
'Most Vulnerable Population'
Standing alongside Morris County School of Technology Superintendent Scott Moffitt, Denville Police Captain Jeff Tucker, Principal Lynn Jackson and School Resource Officer Kristian Sandman, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon addressed parents and students in the school cafeteria around 10:30 a.m.
“We take these incidents extremely seriously,” said Gannon. “Our most vulnerable populations are in schools. They’re our students. They’re our grandchildren. They’re our children. They’re professionals, paraprofessionals, teachers, all the people who make it work,” Sheriff Gannon said to the students and parents.
Also responding to the incident at the school were the Denville Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Denville Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Task Force, Denville Township Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey State Police, Parsippany Police Department and the Montville Township Police Department.