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Ridgewood PD: 'Suspicious' Man Was Picking Up Grandchild From School

Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke is at left.
Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke is at left. Photo Credit: Boyd A. Loving

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – A man who at first appeared to be wearing a bullet-proof vest – sending Ridgewood schools into shelter in place on Wednesday – was simply picking up his grandchild, police said Thursday.

"Fortunately, this was an innocent misunderstanding and simply was a lost resident," Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke said.  

A resident told police the man had asked for directions to the Willard Elementary School.

Ridgewood officers were quickly joined by colleagues from surrounding towns.

Patrols found him soon after on West Ridgewood Avenue wearing a colorful shirt and pants and what turned out to be a weighted vest for working out, Luthcke said.

They took him into custody because of "a language barrier" and brought him to police headquarters, she said.

"After an investigation, it was determined the man was headed to Willard School to pick up his grandchild and had gotten lost along the way and was attempting to ask for directions," Luthcke said. "The situation was explained and he understood the confusion. 

"The man was released without any charges."

The shelter-in-place at the village’s 10 schools “was issued out of an abundance of caution to the school community,” the chief said.

It was lifted less than a half-hour after it began.  

Luthcke thanked Midland Park, Wyckoff and Glen Rock police for their assistance.

"We know this incident may have caused stress in the community," she added, "but we need to take all incidents, such as this, very seriously as our community’s safety is of paramount importance." 

Boyd A. Loving contributed to this article.

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