Essex County News

Nutley Police Make Arrest In Instagram School Threat Case


NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley Police Department made an arrest in the case of an Instagram video post. An 18-year-old resident was charged with Third Degree False Public Alarm.

Joseph Rafanello, a senior at Nutley High School, was arrested and taken to Essex County Jail. The arrest followed a full investigation by the police.

Chief Thomas Strumolo stated that the investigation did not uncover any further active security threats to the Nutley Public Schools. The department will continue to work with the Nutley Public Schools district to guarantee the safety of the schools, students, and staff in the district. 

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When students return to school on Monday, residents may notice the increase in patrols around the schools. Strumolo put these in place as a proactive measure and stated that these are not related to any further threats. 

Strumolo and Nutley Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco stressed their gratitude to the parents in the district as well as the community at large for their patience as this matter was investigated. Gratitude was also expressed to the Nutley Detective Bureau and the Essex County Prosecutors Office for their assistance.

The video at the center of the investigation contains images of the Nutley High School senior in school, with friends and at a firing range. The song playing in the video is 2001 Foster the People's 2011 song "Pumped Up Kicks."

The news of the video broke Thursday February 15, one day after the school shooting in Parkland Florida. Nutley Public Schools Superintendent of Schools Dr. Julie Glazer made the decision late Thursday to close Nutley Schools on Friday, Feb. 16 in an abundance of caution. All Nutley schools are closed this week for Winter Break.

Commissioner Alphonse Petracco and Chief Thomas Strumolo stated anyone thinking about making threats to the schools will be identified and prosecuted utilizing all available resources. All threats will be taken seriously will be fully investigated.

The Nutley Police Department remind everyone that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

After news of the arrest broke, Nutley Public School Superintendent Dr. Julie Glazer issued a letter to all parents, staff, and community members. Update on Nutley Public Schools Security

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