Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gun Wielding Constable Triggers Brockton School Lockdown

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Brockton Police and State Police are investigating why a gun was pulled on a parent’s automobile by a pair of Weymouth constables during the morning drop-off Tuesday at Trinity Catholic Academy's Upper Campus that frightened parents, students and school officials and forced a lockdown of the building by school officials.
“In all my years as an educator I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Principal Cynthia Dunn-Mcnally who said she was “very close to it” when one of the two men pulled a gun on a car dropping off students Tuesday at about 7:30 a.m. at the school’s Upper Campus at 37 Erie Ave.
“It was quite stunning to see a weapon pulled,” Dunn-Mcnally said. "It was stunning," she emphasized.
Dunn-Mcnally said she was outside Tuesday morning with other teachers, City Councilor Dennis DeNapoli, who works at the school, and more than 100 students during playground-recess time that takes place before school begins at 7:45 a.m. when she saw the two men get out of a vehicle and move toward a particular vehicle and pull a gun.
As stunned as she was, Dunn-Mcnally said she immediately began to give instructions to other teachers to round up the children and get them into the school to safety.
“We assumed it was a case of road rage--a really bad case of road rage,” Dunn-Mcnally said.
She said within a minute all of the students were in the school and safe.
DeNapoli remained outside and spoke with the men, but she does not know what took place or the circumstances surrounding why the constables acted in the manner that they did, Dunn-Mcnally said.
DeNapoli could not immediately be reached for comment.
Dunn-Mcnally said her only concern was for the safety of her students. The school’s Upper Campus teaches students in grades 4 to 8.
“At all times students were safe,” Dunn-Mcnally said.
She said she is very proud of her staff and students during the emergency. She said everyone acted swiftly and calmly, and despite some children who were very frightened, the training for such situations was well executed.
“The good news is how we handled it—which was very well,” Dunn-Mcnally said. “That something like this happened is the bad news,” she said.
She said the school lockdown lasted about 10 minutes.
The school's Lower Campus at 681 N. Main St. was unaffected by the situation.
Dunn-Mcnally said Brockton Police and State Police were contacted and are investigating the matter.
Dunn-Mcnally said both law enforcement agencies told her they were unaware the constables would be on the scene and are investigating the pair’s actions.
Brockton Chief William Conlon said the constables are from Weymouth and not Brockton and how they handled the situation is under investigation.
Conlon said the constables were hired by the courts to serve a civil arrest warrant for non-payment of child support by an unnamed father.
He said the constables probably chose to try to serve the warrant at the school because they knew the father dropped his kids off at Trinity and the man had tried to dodge the constables in the past.
However, Conlon said, pulling a gun on school grounds may not have been the best way to handle the matter.
"There seemed to be a lack of judgment," Conlon said.
He said constables do not have the power to pull over vehicles and suggested the constables chose the school to serve the papers because they knew the father would have to stop the vehicle to let the kids out.
He said why the gun was pulled is under investigation.
A better way for the constables to have handled the situation, Conlon said, would have been for them to pick up the phone and contact Brockton Police and say they are trying to serve papers on the man and have the police pullover the vehicle after it left school grounds.
Unfortunately, Conlon said, it's not what the pair did, and he is conferring with the Plymouth County District Attorney's Office to see what options there are for sanctions against the constables.
School Principal Dunn-Mcnally said parents were notified of the situation through telephone calls home and a letter sent home with students.
Contrary to information circulating among parents, Dunn-Mcnally said the two constables were not completely dressed in black, were not driving a black SUV, and did not act like special forces--at least until the gun was pulled.
“They were in civilian clothes and driving a sedan,” she said.
Ironically, Dunn-Mcnally said, the school's more than 500 students two hours later participated in a surprise fire drill, and once again acted calmly and swiftly.

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