An Elizabeth Board of Education employee, truck driver Walter Evers, has been charged with possession of a handgun with a large capacity magazine that he allegedly carried around children in one of more public schools.
According the the charges, Evers had in his possession a handgun with a large capacity ammunition magazine on school property.
Sources say Evers routinely entered school properties throughout the district, although it was not clear if he frequently exposed children to any danger by carrying the weapon.
New Jersey law strictly prohibits the possession of any firearm upon any part of the buildings or grounds of a school or other educational institution without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, even if the person carrying the weapon has a valid permit to carry the firearm.
If he is convicted of a crime of the second degree, Evers may face five (5) to ten (10) years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.
No notice of the arrest was made to alert parents or the public despite the elaborate pronouncements made in Elizabeth after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and at subsequent events.
During Gun Violence Awareness events in 2021, officials rallied students at Christopher Columbus School No. 15, Abraham Lincoln School No. 14, Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Sonia Sotomayor School No. 25, and William F. Halloran School No. 22 to stand up for a future free from gun violence.
“We understand and share the frustration and fear our students have in witnessing these terrible, lifealtering events,” said Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer. “Students have a unique and important voice in this dialogue and it is imperative that we listen.”
“No one has a greater interest in school safety than the students,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Maria Carvalho. “Our students are passionate, concerned and thoughtful. Their voices count.”
Among the participants were U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, state Senators Joseph Cryan and Nicholas Scutari, and former state Senator Raymond Lesniak, Union County Freeholders Angel Estrada, Angela Garretson, Sergio Granados, and Christopher Hudak, Mayor Chris Bollwage; City Council members Carlos Cedeño, Manny Grova, Jr., Kevin Kiniery, Patricia Perkins-Auguste, and Carlos Torres; Carvalho and Elizabeth Board of Education members Diane Barbosa, Stephanie Goncalves, and Stanley Neron.
All that talk turned out to be meaningless, as students, parents and staff were left in the dark about Evers’ arrest on school property when he was charged with possession of a handgun with a large capacity magazine.
In the past, school officials did not attempt to sweep firearms incidents under the rug.
On February 27, 2018, Hugelmeyer sent a letter to parents stating: “An incident took place at Jefferson Arts Academy involving a student who brought an unloaded BB gun into school. The district contacted the Elizabeth Police Department and the student and weapon were both removed from the school. The school followed all protocols to ensure that Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy students and staff were safe.”
A Board of Education meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2022, at Dunn Sports Center, 151 Pearl Street, Elizabeth, NJ.