The father of a student at the Atlantic County Special Services School was arrested last week and charged with making terroristic threats directed at the school, Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles announced Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 2.
Richard F. Owen III, of Atlantic County was arrested on Friday, Dec. 28, and charged with making the threats on Friday, Dec. 21, Balles said. Owen allegedly sent text messages to his estranged wife saying that he had a handgun and was “going for his child,” Balles said.
The child is a student at the school. No weapons were discovered during a consent search following the arrest, which took place a week later, when Detective Douglas Herbert of the Sheriff’s Office and several members of the United States Marshal Service, New York/New Jersey Region tracked him down in Lawrenceville, Balles said.
He was discovered hiding in a bedroom on the second floor of an apartment in the town, which is near Trenton, Balles said. Owen was placed in Atlantic County jail. His bail was set at $100,000 cash.
On the day Owen allegedly made the threat, the school was placed on lockdown under the protection of the School Resource Officer, Adam Erskine of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, along with school security officials, Balles said. Teachers and administrators supervised the orderly movement of the students, and parents were notified to pick up their children, Balles said.
The Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton Township Police Department and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office secured the building and the perimeter around the school grounds, Balles said.
Owen never appeared at the school, but a criminal complaint was signed and a warrant was issued for his arrest, Balles said. Balles added that a thorough search of Owen’s numerous listed addresses in the county was conducted prior to Owen being tracked down in Lawrenceville.
It was the latest in a number of recent incidents involving schools in Atlantic County. Two weeks ago, a Cedar Creek High School student was arrested after ingredients that could be mixed together to create an explosion were discovered at his home. Galloway Police were notified after a teacher became suspicious of drawings in the student’s notebook.
On Dec. 19, a Mainland Regional High School student was arrested for creating a false public alarm, and Galloway Police were summoned to Absegami for rumors of threats circulating online. Those reports turned out to simply be rumors, Galloway Police Chief Patrick Moran said.