F-16 Fighter Fires At School In New Jersey
Incident Happened On Training Mission
POSTED: 3:56 pm EST November 4, 2004
UPDATED: 5:27 pm EST November 4, 2004
LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. -- A National Guard F-16 fighter jet on a nighttime training mission Wednesday fired 25 rounds of ammunition that tore through an intermediate school. No one was injured.
The military is investigating the incident that damaged Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School shortly after 11 p.m.
Police were called to the area when a custodian heard what sounded like someone running across the roof of the school. The custodian was the only person in the school at the time.
Police Chief Mark Siino on Thursday said police officers noticed punctures in the roof. Ceiling tiles had fallen into classrooms and there were scratch marks in the asphalt outside the building.
The 2-inch long bullets are made of lead and do not explode, said Col. Brian Webster, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard.
It was unclear why the shots were fired, Webster said.
Pilot Fired From 7,000 Feet At School
New Jersey public schools were closed Thursday because of a teachers convention. The Ocean County school is scheduled to reopen Monday.
The pilot of the single-seat jet was supposed to fire at a target on the ground three and half miles away from school on the Warren Grove firing range, Webster said.
The military firing range covers parts of Little Egg Harbor, Bass River and Woodland townships in the southern part of the state.
"We don't know what happened that caused the gun to fire," Webster said.
The plane was 7,000 feet in the air when the shots were fired. The gun, an M61-A1 Vulcan cannon, is located in the plane's left wing.
"The National Guard takes this situation very seriously," said Lt. Col. Roberta Niedt, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. "The safety of our people and the surrounding communities are our foremost concern."
The jet that fired the rounds was assigned to the 113th Wing located at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The fighter jet returned there after firing the shots, Webster said.
Webster would not identify the pilot or detail possible disciplinary measures.
Mike Dupuis, president of the township's Board of Education, said there were no precautions the school district could have taken to prevent such an incident.
School workers are mindful that the range is nearby, he said.
"Being so close to the range, that's always in the back of our minds. It is very scary. I have children in that school and relatives that work there," he said.
The school houses students from grades three to six.
The range has been used by the military since the end of World War II, long before the once-rural area was developed. pictures