23 Aug 2014
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Wall Township Fifth Grader Targets Intermediate School In Mass Casualty Plot

Plan similar to "Columbine or Newtown'' was "elaborate,'' police said.

Wall Township Fifth Grader Targets Intermediate School In Mass Casualty Plot

Juvenile charges are pending for a fifth grade Wall Township Schools student whose “elaborate plan” to inflict mass casualties at a township intermediate school was thwarted by school officials and police, authorities said Friday.

The student, whose name is not being released by authorities, was planning an event “similar to a Columbine or Newtown’’ at Wall Intermediate School, Wall Township Police Lt. John Brockriede said.

The plan, which named 40 district students and some celebrities as possible targets and was developed when the student was enrolled at Central School, was discovered after police seized a computer from the student’s home following an investigation that began in April, Brockriede said.

District officials in April found a note containing more general, but violent threats and removed the student from the Central School and he was never allowed to attend the Intermediate School, Brockriede said.

Police were contacted, an investigation was launched, resulting in the seizure of the computer, Brockriede said.

“We believe it was more of a fantasy-type thing he had,’’ Brockriede said. “Not something he was capable of actually carrying out.’’

Nonetheless, Brockriede described the plan as “elaborate.’’

In their investigation, police found a list of 40 district students’ names, identified by first name only, who were potential targets in the plan, along with some celebrities also targeted for violence, Brockriede said.

“There were elements of fantasy in this plan,’’ Brockriede said. “There were things that he just couldn’t have possibly accomplished.’’

The students named in the list were tracked down and their parents were notified by police, Brockriede said.

At least one member of the student’s family has weapons, but at no time did the student have access to the weapons called for in his plan, Brockriede said.

Charges are pending, he said, but Brockriede declined to say what they were pending a filing with the court system.

Classes in the Wall Township School District opened for the new school year on Thursday. The student was not among the pupils at Central School, Brockriede said.

A letter from Interim schools Superintendent Stephanie Bilenker addressing the investigation was posted to the district website. The letter, dated Wednesday, the day before schools opened, was an effort to tamp parents’ concerns about the safety of their children.

“Please be advised and assured that law enforcement and school officials are taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of all of its students as well as addressing the needs of the juvenile suspect,” the letter reads. “The matter is currently under investigation and juvenile charges are anticipated in the very near future.”

Bilenker in the letter says the district is taking extra security precautions in light of the potential threat. She was not more specific.

A call to Bilenker’s office was not immediately returned.

Brockriede said parents should be assured that their children were safe during the investigation and praised the cooperation between the school district and the police.

“We’ve done everything in our power and the schools have done everything in their power to make sure their kids are safe,’’ Brockriede said.

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