Fairfield (NJ) On May 8, 2023, at approximately 11:37 am, a concerned citizen contacted the Fairfield Police Department and reported that he observed two individualswho appeared to be juveniles sitting in a car in the parking lot of Wawa located at 28 Little Falls Road. It appeared to the caller that they were passing a handgun back and forth to each other. The caller was able to provide police with a description of the car and its license plate. Police were immediately dispatched to the location but the vehicle was gone. A computer check of the registration revealed it to be registered to a Bergen County address. That jurisdiction was contacted to check the address for the vehicle.
On his own initiative, Officer Frank Patierno responded tothe West Essex High School campus to check for the vehicle. He discovered it unoccupied in the student parking area. The North Caldwell Police Department wasnotified of the incident and they immediately contacted the administration of West Essex. Both the high school and junior high school were put into lock down. Additional police from Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland and Essex Fells responded to the scene.
The on-scene investigation with the assistance of school officials, identified four students having some contact with the suspect vehicle upon its return to the school property. At this point, officers entered the various classrooms where these four students were located and were takeninto custody for further investigation. One was cleared at the scene and the three others were transported to headquarters for further investigation. The school was then put into a shelter in place status while the investigation continued.
This investigation resulted in the recovery of a Glock-stylewater pistol that one of the students had in his vehicle and which was recently purchased on Amazon so that the student could participate in the widely reported Senior Assassin Game.
For those who may not know what the Senior Assassin Game is, it is where students shoot at each other with water guns, trying to be the last to be hit. While the Senior Assassin Game is supposed to be a fun game for high school seniors to participate in, this incident brings to light the severity that can come from it.
Parents and seniors alike should give careful consideration as to whether juveniles should participate in such an activity. As easily as it was today for a citizen to mistake the water gun as a real gun, the same thing could happen to an innocent juvenile who may run up to another juvenile to shoot them with water. Given the times we live in and the fact that there are more legally carried handguns by citizens and on and off duty police officers, it is not out of the possibility that this could be a tragedy in the making.
In this case, the water gun had a red slide which sometimes gives both parents and students the false sense of security that others would realize it was a toy, however a real gun could easily be designed in this same way. These individuals should realize that, very often, criminals who carry weapons paint them so they look like toys to fool police.
All of the individuals in this case were released from custody and none face any charges.
Issued by: Officer Stacy Chiarolanza (PIO)