A prank 911 phone call last week claiming a shooter was in the area prompted police to respond to Betsy Ross and the Ridge Road Mahwah schools with both marked and unmarked cars, Police Chief James Batelli said.
The caller gave a detailed description of the shooter and the incident, and said the shooter ran from a “blue and white” house on Mahwah Road, which is in close proximity to Betsy Ross School, Batelli said.
“After several minutes we had some doubts about the validity of the call, but had to err on the side of caution because the caller was so explicit,” Batelli said.
“There was also a reference made to Vreeland Court which is in somewhat close proximity to Lenape Meadows School as well as other Ridge Road schools," he said.
The 911 call, Batelli said, originated in Somerset County, was transferred to Warren Township, and then to Mahwah.
After securing the area, police determined the call was a fake. Batelli said he believes the call was “definitely a prank” because “we checked and there were no shooting victims in the county where the call originated or surrounding areas.”
However, tracking the prank caller may not be so easy.
“While the caller was on the line we were attempting to coordinate the signal/coordinates of the cell phone being used. We are still working on tracking the call to the cell phone, but believe it was a pre-paid cellular phone that makes it extremely difficult to trace,” Batelli said.
Though none of the Mahwah schools were directly connected with the incident, some Mahwah parents were alarmed after seeing police cars at the schools. “Parents [were] wondering if they should be worried," one mother of a Lenape Meadows student told Patch. “I think everyone just wants to know that there is nothing to be concerned about for their own kids safety.”