Weapons Search at Audubon High School Demonstrates Technology, Security Effectiveness


A report of a student bringing a gun to school triggered a swift investigation. The threat was debunked, but the district and police say their joint safety protocols held up well throughout the process.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 18, 2024

Audubon High School – exterior. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Classes at Audubon Junior-Senior High School were held briefly on Wednesday, as administrators worked with police to investigate a report of a student bringing a gun in the building.

The incident turned out to be a false alarm; however, authorities said the investigation that followed showed that district security protocols and safety technology are functioning as intended.

In a letter to families, Audubon Superintendent of Schools Andy Davis said that a student had overheard a concerning conversation between classmates, and reported it to administration.

That conversation, Audubon Police Chief Thomas Tassi said, was something along the lines of one student saying to another, “I’m the only one who knows you have a gun in your backpack.”

“There was no weapon found; no ill intent,” the police chief said. “It was a case of someone saying the wrong thing in school.”

Regardless of the weight or levity of that comment, Tassi said the student who reported the remark did exactly what they ought to have done.

“It takes courage to do that,” he said. “We commended the kid who stepped up.”

File photo: Audubon Police Chief Thomas Tassi speaking to Audubon School District families in 2018. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The student who heard the remark was unacquainted with the others, which meant that Audubon police and the district administration and technology teams collaborated to identify those involved in the incident.

“As a result of our investments in various technologies and training, we were able to assess, investigate, and resolve the incident quickly,” the superintendent’s letter read.

“There was no weapon found on the premises, and our students and staff are safe.”

That’s exactly the outcome that everyone was hoping for, the police chief said.

“It was nice to work with the school in a real-time operation with school technology,” Tassi said. “They did great work utilizing the new systems.”

Some of the security instruments used to conduct the investigation were installed as part of the $27-million bond measure the community approved in 2021.

Blessedly, New Jersey hasn’t suffered a school shooting since 1975; the last time that Audubon Junior/Senior High School had a weapons scare was in 2018, when a local teen was investigated for inappropriate social media posts.

FBI studies of active shooter incidents from 2000-2013 as presented at an Audubon town hall in 2018. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

That incident led to a town hall meeting on public safety at the school gymnasium, during which James Corbley of the state Office of School Preparedness & Emergency Planning offered insight about how to anticipate school safety concerns.

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

Ninety-three percent of those are peers of the shooter.

“Information leaks out,” he said.

“That’s the chance where people have the opportunity to intervene.”

Davis’s letter to families concluded with a pledge to continue investigating swiftly all such threats within the district.

“The safety of our Audubon school community is paramount in all of our decisions,” he wrote.

“We appreciate the collaborative efforts between our administrative team, law enforcement, faculty, and students.”

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