Story updated at 12:55 p.m.
Nine shell casings believed to belong to a small caliber gun fired by someone possibly trying to shoot a deer were found on the property of in West Caldwell early Thursday morning, according to police.
Police responded to the school after a resident of nearby Memorial Road reported hearing gunshots at approximately 5 a.m.
West Caldwell Police Chief Michael Bramhall said two shell casings were found near the parking area that overlooks the field in front of the school, and another seven were found in the driveway near the Memorial Road exit.
Police were in the area all morning looking for additional evidence and talking to residents, but no new information was available by midday. There has been no damage reported to the school or surrounding houses.
“We had police presence there this morning, both uniform and plain clothes,” Chief Bramhall said, adding that police will continue to monitor the area this afternoon and again tomorrow. “People—rightfully so–they get concerned,” he said.
Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools Superintendent Daniel Gerardi notified district parents via email Thursday morning.
“There was no damage to the school building and, for precautionary purposes, there is additional police presence in the area,” Gerardi’s letter stated. “We will update parents if any new developments are provided by the police department.”
Bramhall said the casings were “very small” and have been sent out for evaluation in order to determine exactly what caliber they are.
Deer are known to graze the school’s property at night, police said. The township of West Caldwell has ordinances prohibiting both discharging a firearm and hunting.
“There are people that legally own guns, but that doesn’t mean you can go out and start shooting them in a parking lot at five in the morning,” Bramhall said.
The chief said during hunting season the agency receives reports of gunshots heard in Essex County’s West Essex Park.
The K-5 school was closed at the time of the incident.
The incident remains under investigation and the story will be updated when more information is available.