Lawrence High School, 2525 Princeton Pike
On Monday, November 15, 2004, Lawrence Road Fire Co., Lawrence First Aid Squad, township police and the New Jersey State Police’s bomb squad all responded after a possible explosive device was found at Lawrence High School.
It was about 11:45 a.m. when a faculty member discovered the suspicious object in the science wing hallway, near the rear of the school, and alerted Patrolman Todd Caruso, the school’s police resource officer.
After visually examining the object, Caruso ordered administrators to immediately evacuate the school as a precaution. Caruso also notified police headquarters that he had what appeared to be a pipebomb in the school.
Additional police officers hurried to the school and a request was made to the state police’s bomb squad.
At 11:52 a.m. Mercer County Central Communication Center dispatched Lawrence Road Fire Co. for an “emergency special assignment” with orders for Station 22 personnel to call the communications center by phone for special instructions prior to responding. Squad 129 was also dispatched at that time by Lawrence Control.
Paid Driver Robert Santello called Mercer County Central and was informed that a possible explosive device had been found in the school at 2525 Princeton Pike and that all emergency apparatus and personnel should respond to a staging area near the Lawrence Township Board of Education building at 2565 Princeton Pike.
The communications center also advised that radio silence was to be maintained once on the scene.
Telesquirt 22 responded at 11:57 a.m., with Lt. Michael Ratcliffe in command, Santello driving and a crew that included Ff. Evan Kutzin, Ff. Edward Kitchen and Ff. R.J. Laird.
Telesquirt 22 arrived in staging at 12 p.m. with Ambulance 129-1. Telesquirt 22’s crew, wearing full turnout gear and SCBA, stood by there with several dozen students and faculty members who had been evacuated.
Meanwhile, Chief John Fleming responded in Car 22 to the police command post at the rear of the school.
At about 12:20 p.m., Fleming ordered Telesquirt 22 and Ambulance 129-1 to relocate to Review Avenue and Berwyn Place at the rear of the school.
At 12:24 p.m. Rescue 22 also responded to the new staging area near the police command post.
Rescue 22 was commanded by Ff. Walter Hlewicki. Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. drove and the crew included Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Ryan Dlabik. Deputy Chief Wayne Hannon also responded at that time in Car 22-1.
Lawrence Road personnel stood by while representatives from the state police’s bomb squad (who arrived at 12:34 p.m.) X-rayed the suspicious object.
They quickly determined that the object did not contain any explosives and was a hoax.
According to police, the bomb squad concluded that the fake pipebomb had been built from the inner workings of a 6-volt, lantern-type battery. The battery’s metal casing had been removed and its four cylinders joined together with a wire.
At 12:50 p.m., all emergency personnel were released by the police. Telesquirt 22 and Rescue 22 took up at that time and were back in quarters by 12:52 p.m.
Because of the incident the high school was closed for the rest of the day and students dismissed early.
On Wednesday, November 17, 2004, Lawrence police arrested a suspect – an 18-year-old Lawrence High student – and charged him with creating false public alarm and tampering with evidence for allegedly leaving the fake bomb in the school.