A Galloway man was arrested and numerous firearms seized from his home after he allegedly fired a gun into the woods outside the Pilgrim Academy on Thursday, causing several schools to go into lockdown.
Police got a call that shots were fired outside the school on West Moss Mill Road at 9:32 a.m., Chief Donna Higbee said. The school was immediately placed on lockdown.
Officers secured the outside and inside of the school, confirming no one was injured, Higbee said.
As a precaution, all schools within Galloway Township and Port Republic were advised to issue a shelter in place in order to keep the children inside the buildings. Stockton University also had their students and faculty shelter in place.
“There is no immediate threat to campus but avoid that area,” university police said in a text alert.
They assisted along with State Police assisted Galloway Township police.
An investigation found that neighbor Michael Maggi had shot several times into a wooded area near the school.
Maggi, 57, was taken into custody before 11 a.m. without incident. Numerous firearms and ammunition were recovered from his residence.
Maggi was charged with risking widespread Injury, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
He is currently hospitalized. Once released, he will be taken to the Atlantic County Justice Facility, Higbee said.
The quick response by school security and staff was commended by Higbee in a Facebook post she shared on the department’s page Thursday evening.
“Let me be very clear, this was no hunting issue and certainly not anything remotely close to target shooting,” the police chief wrote. “To be dismissive of a serious incident and the subsequent reactions by those we trust with the safety of our children and family members is appalling and irresponsible. Our schools in Galloway Township are special gems amongst our community and our children are most precious.”
She also expressed pride in her officers, “and I am thankful for school administrators and staff that spring into action to protect children and supply responding law enforcement imperative information.”
To the Stockton University Police and to the many facets of the New Jersey State Police that assisted us in quickly apprehending the person responsible for today’s incident you have my gratitude and appreciation. To anyone who was unfortunately delayed for a brief moment in time so that we could do the best job we could and make sure everyone made it home today I appreciate your patience and support. We take our profession very seriously and we place the public’s safety above our own. To our amazing 9-1-1 communications officers and our ambulance squad, I thank you. Everyone involved did exactly what they were supposed to do today and thats a fact!