UPDATE: Airsoft gun leads to lockdown at Middle Township schools

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Students, teachers are all safe and things back to normal after morning scare

Chief Christopher Leusner, left, and Ken Super, chief of county investigators at the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, said an airsoft pellet gun is not a deadly weapon, but that it can appear to be a real gun. Chief Christopher Leusner, left, and Ken Super, chief of county investigators at the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, said an airsoft pellet gun is not a deadly weapon, but that it can appear to be a real gun.

Schools in Middle Township were locked down Friday morning when a Middle School student reported seeing what he thought was a handgun protruding from a backpack left outside the Middle School library.

State and municipal police responded to the Middle School shortly after the report was received at 7:45 a.m., said Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner at a press conference held on Friday. As a precaution, the Middle School and High School, as well as Elementary 1 and 2, were put into lockdown while law enforcement investigated the report.

“When there’s an active shooter situation, classrooms are locked and teachers follow set procedures,” the chief said. “The design of our own procedure is to get as many officers into the buildings as possible.”
Leusner said schools practice lockdown about once a month.

When law enforcement arrived at the Middle School, the backpack was gone. Surveillance of the area, however, allowed officers to identify and locate both the 12-year-old 8th grade student and the backpack.

The student was taken into custody. Authorities determined that the weapon was an Airsoft gun, which shoots pellets. Airsoft guns are often made to resemble real firearms, said Ken Super, chief of county investigators at the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.

At 8:30 a.m., the lockdown ended, and school resumed.

There were no injuries.

Airsoft guns fire pellets with compressed gas, springs or pistons. They are typically closely modeled on specific firearms. While the pellets can do damage at close range, they are considered non-lethal, and are used in play and for training. The guns are usually identified by a bright orange mark on the barrel, but those are sometimes removed or covered over to increase the realistic look of the gun. 

Officials would not say whether the Airsoft gun had been altered, but indicated charges may be possible if it had been. Police said it is possible other charges could be filed against the boy, depending on his motivation for bringing the item to school.

Police did not release the name of the accused student. 


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