ELIZABETH, NJ — The Delaware man accused of bringing a handgun and hollow point bullets to an elementary school in Westfield rejected the offer of a plea deal Thursday.
Handcuffed and standing in a tan jumpsuit at Superior Court in Elizabeth, Thomas J. Wilkie, 46, listened to the prosecution outline its case against him following his June arrest in the parking lot of Tamaques Elementary School.
“There are numerous police officers who could testify to what they observed as they approached the defendant’s car,” said Union County Assistant Prosecutor Theresa Hilton. “There are the weapon and the ammunition that they could present at trial, as well as the operability of these.”
Wilkie is charged with second-degree possession of weapon, fourth degree possession of hollow-point bullets, third-degree possession of a firearm in or on the grounds of an educational institution and fourth degree trespassing on school grounds, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The affidavit of probable cause filed against Wilkie states that police found him seated in his car located in the school’s parking lot with a loaded Glock 30 in his lap. Police found three boxes of .45 caliber bullets including one box with 20 hollow point rounds, the affidavit says.
Authorities said Wilkie had two loaded magazines in his pockets and that officers found a knife on his person.
Wilkie could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges, Judge Joseph P. Donohue said in court Thursday. Donohue said that because the mandatory minimum sentence on the charges would be 42 months in state prison, accepting a plea deal would not likely significantly change the outcome for Wilkie.
“I will note that the legal matter has been rejected and referred to the grand jury,” Donohue said. “Good luck.”
According documents filed in the case, Wilkie was at the school to see a woman whom he had a romantic relationship with and entered the building, where he placed a phone call to her.
“The defendant had made statements to her that he wished to come stay at her residence, and he had called her from a Tamaques School telephone line at 3:36 p.m.,” police state in the affidavit.