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Florence man arraigned on dangerous weapons charges in JFK Middle School incident  

  • Parents and students take turns walking into JFK Middle School to pick up students who were waiting to be released from a lock down at JFK Middle School after Northampton and State Police responded to a report of a suspicious person on school grounds on Thursday, June 7, 2018. Carol Lollis

  • Matthew E. Borsuk, 27, of Florence, left, is arraigned June 8, 2018 in Northampton District Court on charges of disturbing a school assembly and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds. Defense attorney Michael L. Foy, of Springfield, looks on at right. Borsuk pleaded not guilty following an incident at JFK Middle School in which a report of a man with a gun on school grounds prompted multiple schools in the district to go into a lockdown on Thursday afternoon. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Matthew E. Borsuk, 27, of Florence, right, is arraigned Friday in Northampton District Court on charges of disturbing a school assembly and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds. Borsuk pleaded not guilty following an incident at JFK Middle School in which a report of a man with a gun on school grounds prompted multiple schools in the district to go into a lockdown on Thursday afternoon. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Matthew E. Borsuk, 27, of Florence, left, is arraigned June 8, 2018 in Northampton District Court on charges of disturbing a school assembly and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds. Defense attorney Michael L. Foy, of Springfield, looks on at right. Borsuk pleaded not guilty following an incident at JFK Middle School in which a report of a man with a gun on school grounds prompted multiple schools in the district to go into a lockdown on Thursday afternoon. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@ecutts_HG
Friday, June 08, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A Florence man was released on bail after pleading not guilty in Northampton District Court Friday to charges that he brought air rifles onto the grounds of JFK Middle School shortly before dismissal on Thursday afternoon, prompting that school and others in the district to go into lockdowns.

Matthew E. Borsuk, 27, was arraigned on charges of disturbing a school assembly and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds. Standing next to his attorney Michael L. Foy, of Springfield, Borsuk said nothing as Judge W. Michael Goggins ordered bail set at $500 with conditions that he stay away from all Northampton Public Schools and not possess any firearms, including pellet guns. Goggins also ordered that Borsuk remain drug free.

More than a dozen local and state police cruisers responded to JFK Middle School on Bridge Road after receiving a report at 2:10 p.m. of a male with a gun in the rear parking lot. No injuries were reported.

“Initial reports indicated that the man had removed a long barreled rifle from the trunk of a vehicle,” Police Chief Jody Kasper wrote in a statement Friday morning.

One of the school’s physical education teachers, Thomas Driscoll, was outside with a class on the basketball courts when two students told him that they saw a man by a parked car with what they believed to be a firearm, Northampton Police Detective Jared LaValle wrote in a report.

Driscoll told the students that it was likely just a golf club and then began approaching the car and saw what he believed to be the barrel of a firearm around the rear of the car, LaValle wrote. He then immediately called for a school lockdown and ushered students back into the school.

Officers respond

The first officer, Sgt. Grzegorz Korepta, arrived at the school in less than a minute and found the man, according to police. He located the suspicious vehicle in the parking lot on the west side of the school, where it had been backed into a parking spot.

“Sgt. Korepta observed a male (Matthew Borsuk) sitting on the ground by the rear bumper of the car. Borsuk had what appeared to be a rifle on his lap and it appeared that he was loading it,” Kasper wrote. “Sgt. Korepta had Borsuk at gunpoint, ordered him to show his hands, and he complied. At that time Sgt. Korepta also observed a rifle scope on the ground. Moments later additional police units arrived on scene to assist. Borsuk was detained and ultimately arrested.”

Police confiscated several items from Borsuk and his vehicle: an Accu Whisper Pellet Gun (.177 caliber), a Brown Swiss Arms TG-1 Pellet Gun (.177 caliber), Crosman .177 caliber pellets (500), a scope for the black pellet rifle, gun cases, 11.37 grams of marijuana, a marijuana smoking pipe and grinder, and other miscellaneous items, according to Kasper. Police also confiscated a small folding knife and a hatchet, according to court documents.

At around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Borsuk, a 2009 graduate of Northampton High School, was observed sitting on a curb in handcuffs, surrounded by police near the school’s tennis and basketball courts as police removed the items from the sedan. Borsuk told police he was at the school to pick up a friend who worked at the school and that they were planning to go target shooting at a later time, according to court documents. School was let out about an hour late due to the lockdown.

“Since he had some time while he was waiting, he decided to sit outside of the school, remove the weapon from his trunk, and put it together,” Kasper wrote in her statement issued Friday morning. “He indicated that he had no intention of entering the school or using the weapon at that time.”

‘No intentions of causing any alarm’

Borsuk also told officers that he noticed people on the basketball and tennis courts but did not think much of it, according to LaValle’s report.

“Mr. Borsuk indicated that he had no intentions of causing any alarm at the school nor any intention of harming himself or others. He stated that he simply was not thinking about what he was doing when he removed the pellet gun,” LaValle wrote.

Borsuk told police he does not own or posses any other pellet guns other than the ones confiscated and that he does not have any guns or a license to possess firearms.

“He stated that there are no firearms in his residence as his parents are very anti-gun,” LaValle wrote.

When police asked Borsuk’s friend, Ty Dickinson, why he would have the airsoft guns on campus, Dickinson, a school employee, responded that Borsuk must not have been thinking when he took an air rifle out of the car, Northampton Police Detective Ryan Tellier wrote.

“He stated he didn’t believe that Borsuk had it to use on anyone but instead said that the two of them shoot for recreation and they had recently purchased a new one. He said that neither of them use ‘real guns,’” Tellier wrote.

Northampton Schools Superintendent John Provost said after the incident Thursday that the school immediately went into lockdown procedures and that Borsuk never breached building security. After police determined there was no risk to the school, students began to be released, Provost said.

At Northampton High School, where students had already been released for the day, any students who remained on campus were allowed to leave in a controlled release, according to Provost. The district’s elementary schools went into either lockdown or shelter in place until they were cleared to release students. Police cleared the scene at around 5 p.m.

The Pioneer Valley Students For Gun Control, a coalition of student groups from more than 15 schools in the Valley, announced late Thursday that many Northampton students planned to wear black clothes to school on Friday to serve as a visual representation of their unity after a traumatic event, and that they are not done fighting for stronger gun safety laws.

Borsuk is scheduled to appear in court again on July 11.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.