UPDATE: Collingswood H.S. Student Charged for Bringing Handgun to School


A 15-year-old Woodlynne student faces four weapons charges. Authorities said no threat was made against the school or any student. The suspect will not be returning to school, administrators said Sunday. 

By Matt Skoufalos | September 27, 2019
Updated: September 29, 2019 – 8:25 p.m.

Collingswood High School. Credit: Abby Schreiber.

A Collingswood High School (CHS) student was arrested Friday for allegedly bringing a gun to school, according to an announcement from district officials.

That student, who has been identified only as a 15-year-old male from Woodlynne, faces multiple weapons charges, according to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO).

They include: possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon in an educational institution, and possession of firearms by minors.

No one was injured in the incident, and there were no reported threats made against the school or any of its students, the statement read.

In a message to parents, CHS Principal Matthew Genna said police were called after a group of high-school students told a counselor that they believed their peer had brought a gun to school.

The student was removed from class, and after a search, “it was confirmed that the student was in possession of a handgun,” Genna’s note read. The student was taken into custody.

Under New Jersey law, it’s a third-degree crime to bring a firearm to any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution without written authorization, regardless of any permit or license. Punishment can include a $15,000 fine and three to five years of jail time.

In an e-mail Sunday, Genna told parents to expect an escalated police presence on campus Monday. They will have access to counselors as needed, he said.

The letter also said that teachers would “inform the students that the individual involved in the incident is not returning to school,” review safety drills, and reinforce the importance of students speaking up when they have concerns.

Collingswood High School and Middle School. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The memo also noted that students would soon have access to the StopIT app to anonymously report concerns.

Police in Camden City started using StopIT earlier this year.

Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley, a signatory to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, said any school district must be aware of the possibility that a weapon could come into the building.

“There’s no special list where it happens,” Maley said. “We’re waiting to see just exactly the context is and what’s going on. The police have the person in custody, and they’re investigating.”

Last year, at a town hall in Audubon, James Corbley of the NJDOE Office of School Preparedness & Emergency Planning spoke with parents about preparedness drills, risk mitigation, and identifying the signs of school violence before it occurs.

At the time, Corbley said that in 80 percent of shootings, at least one other person knows of the shooter’s plans, and at least two other people know 60 percent of the time.

“Information leaks out,” he said. “That’s the chance where people have the opportunity to intervene.”

All persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. An arrest is not a conviction.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

A letter to parents from Collingswood High School Principal Matt Genna. Credit: Collingswood High School.

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