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Washington School Locked Down While Police Investigate Report of Gunshot

Patrons of Central Avenue barber shop say they heard a possible gunshot around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

School officials locked down Washington Elementary School in West Caldwell for about an hour Tuesday afternoon while police investigated reports of a possible gunshot in the area.

Two police officers were sent to the school, where students remained in their classrooms behind locked doors. Parents, who were there for a winter concert, waited outside on the sidewalk.

Patrons at Central Barbers reported around 1 p.m. hearing a loud bang one man said "sounded like a gunshot," according to West Caldwell Police Chief Michael Bramhall.

Multiple police vehicles responded to the strip of businesses at the intersection of Central and Elmwood Terrace and blocked traffic from Woodrow Place to Miller Street along Central Avenue, as well as side streets, while the investigation was conducted. The businesses are located just a few blocks from the Caldwell-West Caldwell elementary school. 

Some people interviewed in the vicinity of the businesses said they heard what could have been a car backfiring or a car accident, Bramhall said. The chief said police were not able to find anything that supported the claim of a gunshot. 

"Once the police were satisfied that there was no longer a concern, the school went back to normal activity," Caldwell-West Caldwell Superintendent James Heinegg said in a prepared statement. "The police had the matter under control at all times."

North Caldwell and Fairfield police officers also responded to the scene.

melanie December 19, 2012 at 05:27 PM
If patch can have the information closer to real time why cant the school? how long does it take to draft a simple email? in light of recent events there is no excuse for the lack of communication - it should be on a more timley basis - period.isnt that what we have the Instant alert system for?
KT December 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Yes why didn't it come across the instant alert system?
ABC December 20, 2012 at 10:36 AM
In the wake of the tragedy that occurred on Friday, it startles and saddens me to believe that some can be so quick to attack a person who would do absolutely anything for the safety of their children at Washington School. Principal Adams is a wonderfully caring leader to her students, as well as her staff. She should be commended, not criticized, for her clear thinking and compassion demonstrated on Tuesday during the 1-hour lockdown. I qualify to make this statement because I am lucky enough to be one of her staff members. During this very stressful, yet necessary procedure my colleagues and I felt confident that Mrs. Adams and our superb police force had the children’s safety as their number one priority. She and Officer Mazzeo patrolled the halls of Washington School throughout the lockdown to insure our protection. Her time spent immediately following the lockdown was in various classrooms, addressing any fears or concerns that the children had, ensuring them that they were safe. As always, her students were her priority. At dismissal, she did the same until every child was well on their way into their parents’ arms. Thank you Mrs. Adams for your dedication to the children of Washington School.
Kean09 December 20, 2012 at 08:22 PM
First thing to do is make sure the building is safe and that the kids are safe.. I suppose if she ran to her computer and drafted an email to the parents they would have stormed the school..That would have helped keep the kids calm seeing all the parents storm the school, they have seen enough already this week.. She did what she was suppose to do.. Then she drafted her email.. It amazes that everyone has an opinion I got it why don't you all rally for her job and see if you can do it better?
Kris December 20, 2012 at 09:04 PM
What happened to the new and "great" Honey Well Alert System? An hour after dissmissal to find out of a lock down is absolutey unacceptable. Especailly after The Patch had a breaking news alert on it within a 15 minute period! I understand during the lock down it would not have been appropriate for all parties involved to receive notice, as hundreds of parents would have caused more commotion at the school. There is no excuse why it was not sent out IMMEDIATLEY after the lock down was over. Whether it was a desicion made by Mrs. Adams or Heinegg the situation does need to be rectified.

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