Man enters school threatening to kill children

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm

From The Record…

Monday, September 8, 2008

Last updated: Monday September 8, 2008, EDT 4:20 PM


An 23-year-old unemployed man was arrested after carrying a pointed stick into a Ridgewood school this morning and threatening to kill children, police said.

A female staffer stopped Joseph Piepul as he walked through Benjamin Franklin Middle School wielding the stick around 8:30 a.m., said Ridgewood Detective William Hemmer. He apparently had entered through the front door, the detective said.

Principal Anthony Orsini and two male staffers “quickly isolated” Piepul while police were called, school officials said.

“He had no contact with children. He was in the hallway when classes had begun,” Hemmer said. “The staffer noticed him walking through, that he didn’t belong.”

When she asked what he was doing there, Piepul replied in passing that he was there to kill children, the detective said.

Piepul, who once attended the school and is known to staffers there, was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center for evaluation. He is charged with making terroristic threats, criminal trespass, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, and resisting arrest. His bail is $50,000.

Schools Superintendent Daniel Fischbein sent a letter to parents today explaining the circumstances.

“The intruder was quickly isolated by the principal and two staff members while police were called,” Fishbein wrote. “Police responded immediately, restrained the intruder, took him into custody and removed him from the property.

“Although some students may have witnessed police activity, no children came in contact with the intruder….[The] safety of our students and staff is our primary concern,” the superintendent added.

  1. Piepul ingested too much lead from playing on Maple Field…

  2. Good to know where our hefty tax dollars are being spent. Obviously not on enhancing school security.

  3. Great job, 10:39! Keep the complaining despite yesterday’s actions that kept our kids safe!!

  4. 11:03–I think the point is that an alert staff member intercepted the intruder. The “security system” — secured/intercom entry–appears to have failed. A valid question remains as to how he gained entry? was the door open? Was he buzzed in? Credit the staff response, but there remain legitimate concerns.

  5. What happened to all those code blue practices they do in school? Why was there no lock down done?

  6. It did not fail!!! He came in just at that time when students were going into classrooms. The security system — locked doors and intercom — works great. But of course the doors must be unlocked for a time at the beginning of the school day and at the end, so the students can enter and exit. There was no failure whatsoever.

  7. 11:55 — Let’s not introduce inconventient “facts” into the discussion when there’s plenty of complaining to be done!

  8. 11:55 –

    “There was no failure whatsoever.”

    “The security system — locked doors and intercom — works great. But of course the doors must be unlocked for a time at the beginning of the school day and at the end, so the students can enter and exit. There was no failure whatsoever.

    Are you kidding?

    He walked in with the kids. Can’t do anything about that. Oh well… What can you do…

    You can’t be that limited.

    What do you live in a Seinfeld episode? Did we spend all of our money on the Clapco 8000. (It’s the most powerful lock they make. It has only one design flaw…the door…MUST BE CLOSED!! )

    Your “everything worked perfectly” defense of the security system is flawed logic. You are in fact mistaking an explanation of a problem (intruder came in with the kids) for an explanation of a system success (everything worked perfectly).

    This incident exposed flaws in the system and also showed how the most important piece of every system is the human element.
    Do you not want to improve the system?

    No one said that the school was wrong. We’re just saying it was a bit of luck with alert staff and an existing system that worked in this situation. I think we applaud everyone for their efforts but want to improve the system in the future.

  9. And lets not turn the school into a lockdown school – these are community schools after all.

  10. My daughter was in the school that morning, so this is too close for comfort. I would suggest that Ridgewood provide all elementary, middle school and high school students with student ID cards which have can be swiped to enter their respective school. I realize this represents a lot of money, but a child’s life is worth more than a swimming pool at the high school or artificial turf on Maple field or raises to our elected officials.

  11. 3:14- fat chance, that working! The kids would lose them!

  12. I heard that jim stroker was one of the staff that isolated the man until police arrived. I am not surprised that he would put himself in harms way to protect our children. He has been a dedicated educator for more years than I can remember. I believe that those involved should be publically acknowledged for their courage and actions. of course we should review how the security can be made better, but lets try something new. rather than complaining, how about celebrating those who put their safety at risk to protect our children.

  13. 3:14 – fact chance, that getting funded! The anti-school crowd wants to cut school spending at every turn!

  14. When the doors are open, there should be staff manning all doors just like they do at the HS. Lucky that staff intercepted this intruder before he could perpetrate any injuries on our kids. Why were the doors still open at 8:30 when classes at BF start around 8:05??

  15. I frankly don’t care what it takes. I would be fine with all the security cameras, cops and whatever else the police tell us they need to prevent random nuts jobs (or worse and few terrorists like happended in Russia).

  16. 1:18 — I stand by my comment that everything worked perfectly. The “system” is more than the door locks and intercoms and buzzers. Part of the system is what you said, the “human element.” Having adult staff out in the hallways and near external doors during those “open door” times, to see if anyone enters who does not belong. I think that is a reasonable system. Dr. Fishbein said at the boe meeting last night that the whole thing was over in under 10 minutes (I can’t remember the exact number of minutes but it was fewer than 10). I think that is remarkable and is due to the “system”. My child is a student at BF and I am satisfied with the security.

  17. 3:08 pm –


    A lockdown school in Ridgewood would NOT be a system that I would consider “working perfectly” for our needs. However, the current system that allowed this guy into the building before apprehending him is also not “working perfectly”.

    I’m talking about fine tuning and improving the system to decrease the possibility of bad guys actually getting into the building (even when the kids are entering and exiting).

  18. 3:19 PM –

    If the kids lose them, then they (or their parents) pay for a new one.

    They need to show a little responsibility at some time in their life.

    Why not start now.

  19. So what happens during after school hours. That means the kids could just swipe themselves in whenever they want. Nope, not a good idea at all.

  20. my sister was in school at the time and she said there was no lockdown. They just closed the class doors, and did not do the lockdown procedure.

  21. What a bunch of nonsense. First of all the record story is all hype and no facts. It was a misguided young man who was having a down day. there was no indication that he was a threat. He did not have a sharp stick.

    All this talk of security is ridiculous. If some lunatic wants to do harm they will do it. The security systems give us a false sense of security. They make us think we are doing something to prevent something horrible, but in reality they do nothing. At the same time they inject a sense of fear in our kids.

    The BF staff did a great job. This was NOT a big deal. The Record should be ashamed of itself. And please stop with all this more security nonsense.

  22. 10:38
    Security equipment is like a fire alarm. It goes off after the fact.

    However without that alarm and evacuation proceedures, maany people could be harmed and lives lost.

    Security equipment and proceedures are the same as fire alarms. It alerts people to a breach. and the procedures dictate the action to be taken. ( a lockdown maybe).

    Don’t poo poo security equipment as a waste. Just as a homne smoke detector works to protect your family, security equipment can be used to protect people too.

    The staff at the school did an outstanding job to help protect our kids.
    PS. I hope you have smoke detectors in your home.

  23. 8:04pm

    Swipe card systems are pretty sophisticated. You can turn off access between certain hours, plus you can record who has swiped in and out.

    Most companies use them to track employees not only for hours worked, but also to know who is in the building in case of an emergency.

    This incident seems like a nothing, but it is reasonable to think of a better way to secure the schools.

  24. 4:34 — the doors were not open at 8:30…the whole thing was over by 8:!5.

  25. Does anybody have any links to a followup on this? Piepul is a friend of mine and I don’t buy any of this, so I’m glad to hear in the comments that it was exaggerated. Nice fear-mongering by the record, though.

    *agreement with the points made by anonymous 10:38*

  26. I was one of the initial “complainers”
    (11:41 above). With the info above, I am satisfied that everything worked as it should have and certainly dont think we need pentagon-level security systems at our middle school. Also, staffers like Jim Stroker are of way more value in managing these issues than any system.

  27. 11:06
    GUNS KILL! everyone, staffers included.
    Stop putting your head in the sand.

    Systems don’t get killed once activated.
    Systems work, maybe not on the level as the Pentagon systems but they do work, once in place and activated.
    Lets put the right systems in our schools with procedures that can be tested and parcticed on a scheduled basis, so you don’t have to stop and read a manual.

  28. 1:33 what in heaven are you talking about? There is a system. It worked. End of story.

  29. Hey 6:41…time for some new friends!!!!

  30. The staff did exactly what they should have. Security systems and lockdowns are not fool proof. Anyone working in a school knows this. The staff also has to act and they did. They should be applauded for their efforts, pace, and keeping all of the children safe. This boy was a former student who was distressed. If it was your child, wouldn’t you want to know that he/she was comfortable enough with the town’s school system to feel it was a safe palce to go for help. Lockdown was not the answer. The staff was amazing, as usual. We live in a world where things happen and security, and safety measures do not always work. The Ridgewood and BF community should rest at ease knowing that their children are safe, because the BF staff has common sense and compasion for all people.

    The Bergen Record should be ashamed. What they printed could not have been further from the truth! Do they ever produce an accurate retelling of events??

  31. I am very disappointed in the reporting of this story in the Bergen Record. The young man had made an appointment to see the teacher. The “threatening” objects he carried were two drumsticks. Please do not jump to conclusions until the facts come to light and then perhaps, you will realize the school may have been overzealous in having this man arrested.

    If the truth exonerates the young man, I hope the local media is as eager to print a retraction as it was to publish a sensationalist account of events.

  32. 8:55- While I agree with your thoughts, I can tell you that you too should not always jump to conclusions. He did not have a prior appointment with the teacher. I can say that with confidence and fact as she is my mother. She was as surprised as anyone to see this young man, but was touched that he wanted to speak with her. The only threat this poor person was, was to himself. Teachers do make a difference. My mom was one of them that day. BF staff is amazing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: