school shooting

Man Who Brought Loaded Gun, Ammo to NJ School Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

He allegedly had more than 100 bullets in his car at the time

What to Know

  • A man arrested outside a Westfield elementary school last June was sentenced to five years in prison Friday
  • At the time of his arrest, the man had more than 100 rounds of ammunition in his trunk
  • Law enforcement officials said they believe he had been searching for a member of the school's faculty

A man arrested outside a New Jersey elementary school last year with a gun and more than 100 rounds of ammunition was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison.

Thomas Wilkie, 46, pleaded guilty in January to unlawful possession of a weapon. The charges stemmed from a June 2019 incident in which Westfield Police Department patrol officers and detectives responded to Tamaques Elementary School after receiving reports a man — later identified as Wilkie, a Delaware resident — was en route to the school and possibly armed.

A senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation at the time said Wilkie's brother was the person who alerted authorities that Wilkie was in a bad place mentally.

According to the official, Wilkie entered the school searching for a woman he had been in a relationship with -- but he did not have a weapon on him at this point. When she wasn't there, he allegedly returned to his car and called the woman, who said she was at a tutoring appointment but would return to the school.

Wilkie then waited in his car and called his brother, the official said. Based on that call, the brother was concerned about Wilkie's state of mind and called the Delaware State Police and alerted them to the situation, according to the official.

The school was placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure, and to identify any potential threats.

Arriving officers located Wilkie in the front seat of his vehicle, a 2019 Mitsubishi SUV, parked in the school’s parking lot, holding a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, prosecutors have said.

Wilkie had two additional loaded clips of ammunition, while 130 additional rounds of ammunition were located in the vehicle’s trunk, they added.

At sentencing, Wilkie expressed remorse and described the incident as "unconscionable, frightening, and unacceptable," according to the Union County prosecutor's office.

Wilkie has said he had no intention of bringing the gun into the school. Authorities have not said why he drove to the school.

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