SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Park Middle School students were delayed for 25 minutes before they were dismissed on Thursday afternoon, as Scotch Plains police — with mutual aid from Fanwood and Union County PD — responded to an emergency call at a house on Park Avenue at 2:30 p.m.
After an initial report of potential arson, the police search the home, resulting in school officials to go into "Shelter in Place" mode as a safety measure to protect the students and staff.
"The teachers told [their students] it was a shelter in place, but did not tell them anything else," said Sara Carpien, the mom of a 5th grader at Park Middle School. "There were fire trucks, police cars, and a guy in a SWAT vest on. We saw the police put a suspect in handcuffs into a car. Parents were commenting that he looked young - maybe 16 or 17."
Police questioned the residents of the home directly across the street from the middle schools. Flames may have been caused by teenagers lighting Roman candles, and the fire department quickly left the scene.
“There was no danger to the public and the situation is under control,” said Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley. “We’d like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.”