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News

No Charges For Jersey Shore Man Who Posted Facebook Threats Against Sparta Schools

Sparta High School
Sparta High School Photo Credit: https://www.sparta.org/Domain/11

A Jersey Shore man accused of posting threats toward Sparta school officials on social media will not face criminal charges, authorities said.

The Wall Township man shared a message Friday calling for people to "knock down the doors of the BOE members and union leaders" if Sparta schools aren’t fully reopened soon, DailyRecord reports citing Police Lt. John Lamon.

A follow-up investigation of the alleged threats determined that the man was “just venting,” the report says.

"The detective bureau followed up and made contact with him," Lamon told the outlet. "The guy said 'I'm not looking to cause problems for anybody, I was just venting and have no intention of being in Sparta or coming up to Sparta.'"

"The guy really has no ties to here, so it's not clear what his interest is up here other than the fact he's friends with somebody in the Facebook group."

The school district is writing an official letter prohibiting the man from entering school grounds.

Meanwhile, the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office has been made aware of the incident, as well as Wall Township police, who are checking in to make sure the man doesn’t have any mental health problems that could threaten personal or public safety, the report says.

"He's already been notified plus he'll be getting a certified copy of the letter letting him know he's not welcome here, so if he were to show up for a Board of Ed meeting or enter Board of Ed property, he could be arrested and charged with defiant trespass," said Lamon.

Lamon noted that though local school officials still have the right to enter a complaint, doing so may be difficult because of the lack of specifics in the comments.

"It's not a specific threat saying that 'coming up on this date, this is what I'm going to do,' so it doesn't really meet the threshold of a terroristic threat," said Lamon. "And even for a lesser charge of harassment, it really has to be repeated behavior rather than a one-time incident."

District Superintendent Patrick McQueeney said officials are “waiting for more information” before making a final decision.

"I'm waiting for advisement from the Prosecutor's Office regarding the situation,” he said. “Once I get their opinion, I'll contact the Board of Ed and our legal counsel and determine next steps.”

In a letter sent Friday to parents in the district, officials didn’t mention a specific reopening plan but expressed being confident in their ability to "more fully reopen schools in the near future."

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