Students were not in the building Wednesday at Newtown Middle School when someone spotted a teacher carrying a gun.
That teacher, Jason Adams, 46, has since been arrested, and the community is wondering what he was thinking when he brought the firearm to work that day, the Hartford Courant reported.
So far, his intentions are not clear.
Little is known about the teacher, and he didn’t respond to calls from media requesting comment on Wednesday’s incident. He teaches science and was described by one parent as “kind, helpful, considerate,” according to NBC Connecticut. Parent Liz O’Connell was shocked that he was arrested.
“I think it’s horrible, obviously I don’t know the reason why but it was a stupid mistake.”
The school is two miles from Newtown Elementary where, in 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults before killing himself. The incident inspired the enactment of stricter gun laws nationwide and strict security protocols in Newtown schools.
Those security protocols, police said, were instrumental in ensuring Adams was spotted, detained, and arrested so promptly, according to the Danbury News Times.
“This close working relationship between the (district) and law enforcement personnel is essential in resolving incidents of this nature,” Newtown Police Chief James Viadero said.
Officers were called at about 9 a.m. with a report that security staff were detaining the science teacher after discovering that he was carrying a concealed weapon against policy.
A retired officer assigned as a security officer disarmed and held the teacher until law enforcement arrived and arrested him. After the 2012 shooting, armed officers patrolled the schools in Newtown, but eventually, these were replaced with armed security officers, who are mostly retired cops.
All schools were on a two-hour delay that day due to staff meetings, meaning students didn’t witness the incident.
“This matter is very serious and troubling, both the … public school system and the… police department took immediate steps to address the matter,” the district said in a statement. “Both agencies have been working closely together to investigate the incident and are taking precautions to ensure the continued safety of our students, staff and community members.”
The arrested teacher has a valid pistol permit and was charged with felony possession of a weapon on school grounds. He has since been released from jail and will appear in court later this month. He has also been placed on leave as an investigation into the incident gets underway.
Mental health service providers will offer support for anyone in need following the arrest, and a community forum to discuss it will be held Thursday. Sandy Hook Promise, a group formed by the parents of Newtown’s young victims, said they were dismayed that this happened “in a community as traumatized as Newtown.” They lauded Adams’ quick arrest.
“Anyone who experienced the Newtown massacre or has spent time with the families of victims and survivors knows the trauma it caused and continues to do so today,” added Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
The group supports measures that prohibit unauthorized guns in schools.
On the other side of the argument is Scott Wilson, the president of gun rights advocacy group Connecticut Citizens Defense League. Although he disagrees with the law that prevents gun owners from carrying on school grounds, he agreed that the teacher should’ve been arrested since “the law is the law.”
“Hopefully this person had the intent to protect students from harm’s way in a worst-case scenario.”
According to Viadero, the teacher’s motives are still unknown.
[Image via koi88/Shutterstock]