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Police May Press Charges Against Boy Found With Camo Suit, Fake Rifle

The crux of the ongoing investigation is to find out why the boy exhibited the behavior that 'alarmed many' in the township, police said

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.

Submit your questions or news tips to jessica.mazzola@patch.com. And, remember to sign up for Patch's daily newsletter, and get updates on Facebook and Twitter.

John January 18, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Given the sensitivity to the recent tragic events of gun violence and being a male who at a young age has played "army." I think it is safe to say that maliciousness was not involved here. That's why we need to educate, time and place. Not file juvenile charges. So, what prompted a 13-year-old boy to play soldier? Has anyone ever heard of the military entertainment complex? With exposure to violent TV, Movies and Video Games plus reactions like this. Our children do not have a chance.
Sanity January 18, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Kick him in the pants and send him home. Is there anything in his behavior that tells you about his intent? A 13 yr old is allowed to play. Was he playing or did his behavior or intent show malice or intent to scare and do harm? Does he show a history of mischief? Does he have anything in his computer or at home that raises flags?
CaraGia January 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Seriously??? Get real already! We have become such a society of pansies and tattle-tales these days. Keep believing we need the police state folks. Before you know it, we won't have a single freedom protected under the Bill of Rights. Can't wait to hear what you have to say then... even if you won't be allowed to voice those thoughts.
Covco January 18, 2013 at 01:13 PM
We are getting carried away... No crime here... But because people reacted a child may get a record... What did his parents say?... Why did he even have this attire?... We are to the point now that we suspend children for pointing fingers like guns and saying pow... A sad situation it is...
psumba January 18, 2013 at 01:14 PM
John, good observation! This is why the defense of the 2nd Amendment is so important. There are too many lessons from history where gun control was a prelude to evil ... from the KKK-sponsored gun control laws after the Civil War (that allowed them to terrorize blacks) to the governmental gun control laws by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao that enabled the government-sanctioned slaughter of uncounted millions of souls! WRT this kid ... what he was doing is less evil than what kids are doing in their bedrooms every day on their video games. He probably lives in one of the condos across the street and was playing in one of the few areas of woodland nearby to his house! He sounds like a prime candidate for the special forces when he enlists in the military after high school.
hsr January 18, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I'm sure if everyone carried a gun here and this kid was seen by them he would have been shot or dead when seen. At least this way he still has a chance to be taught what's funny and what's not. Parents, get on the ball!
Bob January 18, 2013 at 03:55 PM
MPD has always had a strong arm for the middle school set, when I was in Ramapo Ridge they police requested a copy of every yearbook to keep an eye out for what they would preordain "troublemakers". They followed whoever they deemed "bad" all the way through high school.
Andy Schmidt January 18, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Given the low crime rate (even for THIS area, and when compared to neighboring towns), I'd say they are doing SOMETHING right. As far as that boy - we know nothing to be able to throw stones in EITHER direction! Instead, knowing that many senior police officers are also parents (some even of teenage kids), and knowing that school personnel are parents - I have confidence that those who DO have a FACTS will do their best to assess (with the boy's parents) whether this was just a harmless game by an enthusiastic mind - or whether this is a troubled soul that warrants closer monitoring going forward.
Don Strock January 18, 2013 at 06:04 PM
This is insane. The kid was in the WOODS, not running down Franklin Turnpike brandishing his TOY GUN. Soccer moms are taking over the world. Me and my brothers used to shoot BB guns in our backyard on a daily basis, set off smoke bombs at Suraci's pond. Thank God I grew up in the 70s.
David Knuth January 18, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I grew up playing army. I ran around with spraypainted toy guns and bb guns and had battles with my friends in full army dress. We were kids, no one freaked out. has this country lost all sense of its fortitude and so on?
David Knuth January 18, 2013 at 06:37 PM
depends. If I see a kid with a gun, my first thought and reaction is NOT to draw and fire...
t hunt January 18, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Get a grip! He's a 13 yr old boy! He SHOULD be playing pretend in the woods. We micro-manage every moment of our children's lives. Our kids DO NOT know how to manage time, make friends, & play pretend. Before any charges are even considered seriously ask yourselves, "What were you doing at 13?" Call it news when you find this kid smoking crack, pot, or drinking in the woods. I have 3 boys, I encourage them to spend as much time as possible outside in the sunshine, the woods, surrounded by nature. My son has a Blind & pretends he's hunting or playing army(We've been at war since he's born) when we set it up the entire neighborhood's over, including the homes where guns are frowned upon. Those same kids own every war game made. As small boys mine had plastic weapons, the boys who weren't allowed to, used sticks. My boys have been taught, soldiers/police use weapons to protect & defend, only drawing them when all else fails. They've been taught to respect weapons, any weapon, a kitchen knife can do some serious damage & to never touch any weapon, including the kitchen knives. We haven't allowed our kids to play in the front yard for years because God forbid someone should take their pretend the wrong way. That's an even sadder reality. No one looks twice at a girl pretending to shop w/ her baby doll. Woman R gatherers, men R hunters, it's hard wired into our DNA. Has anyone considered what this publicity is doing to this child. It shouldn't 've been news until it needed to be.
I plead the 2nd tchk tchk January 19, 2013 at 03:58 AM
I used to play army and cowboys and indians with toy guns. I used to go in my back yard with my bb gun and shoot birds or try to. This country is getting very strange.
JP January 19, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Love the mentality here. This is why our country's in so much trouble. Tolerance for ever increasing "gun culture" when any incident now a days causes everyone's paranoid fear to ramp up. Some for fear of guns and be mowed down, and others for restricting guns and having yours taken away. There's got to be a normal mix here people. We cannot go on like this. We already have the most guns in the world and I don't see people being safer, or all the George Zimmerman wannabees stopping any criminals on their own. Do you?
JP January 19, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Let's face the simple fact here people, this kid could have been shot by an NRA card carrying, well intentioned, GZ wannabee, who thought they were being a hero by stopping some mass murderer stalking in the woods outside that building before he got one shot off on someone. Stupid stuff like that happens. That's the problem with just "anyone" having a firearm and not making an example out people that can cause such an incident in the first place. It's not to be tolerated in today's paranoid world.
JP January 19, 2013 at 06:25 AM
psumba, you need to try and absorb this article (and it's various links) and understand just what the second amendment might really have been created for. Very interesting... http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/01/16/founding-fathers-words-reveal-2nd-amendment-was-to-preserve-slavery/
hsr January 19, 2013 at 03:49 PM
JP I agree with you. It wouldn't have been the first one shot by a so called gun carrying person who thinks he's a big shot. We no longer live in times like the 60s-80s & even most of the 90s. Now a lot of the movie violence has infected some people and children.
CaraGia January 19, 2013 at 04:00 PM
JP, Anyone who believes the crap written in that article needs to have his head examined and to learn the TRUTH of history, not the propaganda that is taught to people today. Just because someone reports it or hypothesizes about it, doesn't make it fact. In point of fact, the Declaration of Independence was written before the Revolutionary War. Our founding fathers had just fought a war for freedom from British rule that was doing to them exactly what we see the current and previous administration doing today when our Constitution and Bill of Rights were written. Let me enlighten you a bit... the The War Between The States wasn't even fought for the purposes of ending slavery, as we're taught, it was fought to keep those states that seceded from the union from doing so for ECONOMICAL reasons alone that had nothing to do with slavery, but the amount of income derived from the southern states. A couple of those states that seceded had already outlawed slavery. What would have been the point of secession for them, if what we're taught is true? Lincoln and others of that time were not proponents of ending slavery. Lincoln openly stated it in records we have today of things he wrote and said. Last point, by silent consent, we are all slaves to the current form of gov't we have today following the adoption of the 14th Amendment www.PACinlaw/treason
CaraGia January 19, 2013 at 04:05 PM
JP to continue from below, the 13th Amendment is nothing more than a slight of hand for the 14th Amendment. Go read the link I posted below to really understand how it was done. We all now carry dual citizenship to both our state and the usurping Federal gov't, although that was not how our founding fathers established this nation. When I say by silent consent, when we fail to acknowledge that we will not participate in the form of gov't the Fed's have today, which, BTW, happens to be a corporation, as are all Federal agencies, we bestow upon them the right to rule us. You think you aren't a slave today? Don't kid yourself. The chains may be invisible, but they are nonetheless, still there. Freedom we think we have it only an illusion to keep you in check and pacified. Do your research, please!
CaraGia January 19, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Sorry, that link should have read www/PACinlaw.org/treason
Dirk Diggler January 20, 2013 at 01:40 PM
George Zimmerman may be innocent. I like scotch, scotch scotch scotch. Anyone up for ice cream? Strawberry is my favorite. Kids are kids...let them play. Time for a bath.
BlackWahya January 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Dirk this is a serious matter, times have changed!!! Playing too close to schools and corporate offices isn't too bright. Just so you know George Zimmerman is still in jail.
Abt February 25, 2013 at 04:18 PM
So did they charge him or not? This is just another faithful reciting of a police-issued PR blurb, without any hint of proper journalism whatsoever.

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