FHS 17-Year-Old Arrested After Handgun Found In Backpack

Question: If there was no threat, why was he charged with a crime that implies a threat?

Questions remain unanswered in the Feb. 23 arrest in Franklin High School of a 17-year-old township youth who was allegedly found with a loaded gun in school.

According to a Feb. 27 press release from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the youth was found to have a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in his backpack.

The youth – whose name was withheld because of his age – was charged with 2nd Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and 2nd Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

The law covering possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2c:39-4, states that “Any person who has in his possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.”

Police and school officials, however, have said that at no time did the presence of the gun pose any threat to students or staff.

Questions posed to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to clear up the issue were not answered.

Authorities were alerted to the possibility that the youth had a gun in the school by a tip to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force.

Task force members alerted Franklin Township Police, who were then dispatched to the school along with detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force and Major Crimes Unit, according to the release.

Once at FHS, police met with school officials and began looking for the student. The school’s School Resource Officer soon joined the search, and the youth was found in a classroom, according to the release.

The youth was taken out of the classroom and to a school security office, according to the release. A search warrant for his backpack was secured, and the loaded gun was found, the release said.

The youth was sent to the Middlesex County Juvenile Detention Center in North Brunswick pending a detention hearing, according to the release.

Later in the day of Feb. 27, schools Superintendent John Ravally issued the following statement:

Earlier today, February 27, 2018, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office gave us permission to release information concerning Friday’s incident which occurred at Franklin High School. As a result, I would like to share the following.

Franklin Township Public Schools and the Franklin Township Police Department have always had a strong relationship. Due to our history of cooperation, a serious situation was successfully resolved this past Friday.

Early in the school day on Friday, the Franklin Township Police Department responded in a swift and certain manner to information that a student at the high school had a weapon. Local law enforcement and the Somerset County Prosecutors Office assured the district that at no time were our students or staff in any danger.

Incidents of this nature occur in schools across the country. The ongoing relationship between the district and the Franklin Township Police Department allowed for a swift and effective resolution to this matter. Our commitment to providing a safe and secure learning environment remains a top priority.


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