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Cedar Creek Student's Drawings Prompt Investigation, Lead to Arrest

Chemicals that could cause an explosion are found in the 16-year-old student's home.

The investigation and subsequent arrest of a 16-year-old Cedar Creek High School student from Galloway Township came after a teacher observed “hand drawn pictures of weapons in the student’s notebook,” Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Ciccariello said Wednesday morning.

“It didn’t look good to her,” Ciccariello said. “It was the perfect implementation of what our staff is trained to do. If they see any warning signs, they are to report it to school officials, and that’s what she did.”

Galloway Township Police were called to the school, and an ensuing investigation of the student’s home uncovered electronic parts and chemicals that, when mixed together, could cause an explosion, police said on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The student is currently being held in Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center. A sweep of the school was conducted on Tuesday by Galloway Police, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and multiple other police departments and K-9 units from the area. Nothing was found, police said.

Cedar Creek remained open on Wednesday. A message was sent out to parents on Wednesday morning, alerting them of the situation. According to Ciccariello, parents were not alerted on Tuesday night because there was no incident at the school, and the investigation continued late into the night.

“I was on the phone until 11 p.m., and by the time parents received phone messages, it would’ve been midnight, 1 in the morning,” Ciccariello said. “I didn’t think that was the best thing, especially since the message was that everything is fine at Cedar Creek High School.”

Details concerning the student and possible disciplinary action are not being released due to the student’s age.

“School officials will make a decision in accordance with out code of conduct, and consult with law enforcement officials  because there are charges involved,” Ciccariello said.

Ciccariello also didn’t release the identity of the teacher who observed the drawings and alerted officials.

“I’m proud as the superintendent that our staff responded the way they did,” Ciccariello said.

Staff at all three district schools, including Cedar Creek, Absegami and Oakcrest, are watchful in the days following last Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. On Wednesday morning, Galloway Police were at Absegami conducting another investigation.

“That was a response to rumors on Facebook,” Ciccariello said. “It was brought to the attention of Galloway Police first. One parent or group contacted them and Galloway Police contacted Absegami. They were on the property this morning to conduct an investigation. Because of the Connecticut shooting, there’s a lot of sensitivity.”

"After looking into it, the rumor appears to be just a rumor," Galloway Police Chief Patrick Moran said via email on Wednesday. "However, the school and the PD are working together to ensure that the school continues to be safe and secure."

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