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Hunters in Nearby Fields Cause Scare at Griebling School

"Popping Sounds" reported during student drop off

Parents dropping their children off at Griebling School on Wednesday morning reported hearing "popping sounds," in the area as they arrived at the school.

In an email to parents Principal Nancy Rupp said the sounds were later determined to be coming from hunters in the fields behind the elementary school. Rupp said the Howell Police Department was called and investigated the situation. During the investigation Rupp said students being dropped off by their parents or on busses were "held on the vehicles until we were cleared to have them depart and enter the school."

The principal said in the email that, "For the most part students were unaware except for the fact that they were asked to remain on their busses for a little longer than usual."

Rupp said that while the hunters were determined to legally be allowed to be in that area she, "requested that the police officers appeal to the hunters to please go else where."

Superintendent Enid Golden said she was aware of the situation and was looking at ways to avoid future occurrences. "I am requesting that we appeal to hunters and ask that they refrain from hunting near schools despite staying within legal limits," she said. "The fact that parents and staff heard the shots, during this very sensitive time, is very disconcerting."

According to information provided by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife there is a "Safety Zone" for school buildings and playgrounds of 450 feet for firearms. The safety zone for bowhunters is 150 feet for buildings and 450 feet for playgrounds. 

Within these safety zones hunters, "cannot carry a loaded firearm or nocked arrow unless you have written permission in hand."

Safety zones were established in 1946 "as an area to place some physical distance, a buffer, between hunters and homeowners," the division said. 

State Sen. Robert Singer said Howell residents had reached out to his office following the incident and he directed them to contact the township's administration. "The reaction of the parents is perfectly understandable in light of what we've all been through," he said. 

Singer said that while the state has its laws townships are allowed to pass their own ordinances based on their individual situations. 

Mayor Robert Walsh said as a parent he would also be alarmed by the sounds of gunshots near his children's school especially after the shooting in Newton, CT. "What happened on Friday was a tragedy," he said. "The nation is also a little bit edgy about guns and gunshots."

The Mayor said he would support discussing adjusting the safety zone in Howell much like there is a drug free zone around the schools. "There may need to be a 2000 foot limit that guns are not allowed to be in anyone's hands near a school," he said. "I'm of the opinion that we need to do more. We need to do anything we possibly can to prevent some of these catastrophic events that people have done in the last 10 to 15 years in the United States of America." 

This is a breaking news story. Stay with Howell Patch as more information becomes available. 

Susan Kehoe December 21, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Susan Hatkins Kehoe · Top Commenter Last year a hunter (a cop) trespassed on my property and killed a bear. It was terrorizing to hear shots so close to my house. Children live in the area. NJ Fish & Wildlife were called and did NOTHING to the hunter. This has to change. Fish & Wildlife said they couldn't prove the hunter was within 450' of houses (and children live in the neighborhood, too). This YouTube video will prove how right I am and how DEP Spokesperson Larry Ragonese should get his facts straight before making statements. Now is the time to demand a safe living environment. YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrXL9ZH1NGs.
timothy newman December 23, 2012 at 03:17 PM
i am amazed; that not 1 person other than myself; has the curiosity that if true;some cops were arrested during the 6 day buck season ;by game wardens& state troopers on rte 18! we pay them with our taxdollars &yet not one confirmation if this is true! maybe nobody want;s to know.I have been a sportsman going on 50yrs,have lived here all my life;& i have never seen what i saw in my neighborhood this last opening day!
Gail January 01, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Anyone know where we can address these concerns and take some action, rather than write about it? Is Griebling having any type of meeting? A townhall anywhere? We can "comment" on this all day...not going to change anything.
Al Miller January 01, 2013 at 09:25 AM
This is straight from the Howell BOE Website. The Howell Township Board of Education will be discussing school safety at its January meeting. If you would like to be part of the discussion, please join us at 8:00 pm on January 3, 2013, in the Cafetorium of Howell Middle School North.
Gail January 01, 2013 at 01:11 PM
PERFECT...IT'S A START! Thank you, Al! See you all there!

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