Mahwah Police are still investigating what prompted a 13-year-old Mahwah student dressed up in a camouflage Ghillie suit and carried a fake rifle while walking in the woods near some of the township’s public schools last month, Chief Jim Batelli told Patch this week. Though they have not yet done so, police may still file juvenile charges against the boy, he said.
“In this case, possession was not a crime,” Batelli said. “But, there [is more of a basis for a possible] disorderly conduct charge, for creating alarm and concern. It’s why you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, or go into a bank with a Halloween mask on.”
According to police, the boy’s outfit was alarming to many people in the area, including the nearby Seiko Corporation, which requested a police presence when its employees left that day.
Police also alerted the Mahwah School District to the incident, both to ensure school safety and to alert school officials to any potential emotional issues the boy may have, Batelli said.
“The main issues in a juvenile incident like this, is to find out why the individual is doing it, and what can be done to prevent future behavior like it,” he said. Whatever course of action the police take in the ongoing investigation will attempt to “prevent the behavior as an adult,” Batelli said.
Representatives from the Mahwah School District declined to comment on the incident this week, or say what, if any, actions are being taken within the schools to address the incident with the boy and his family.
Batelli also said he could not comment on the specific conversations police had with the school or the boy’s parents, due to the juvenile nature of this case, but “this was not an incident we took lightly,” he said.
The incident occurred one week after sensitivity to gun violence was heightened across the country that claimed the lives of 26 victims.