Clarkstown Police were called to the Jesse J. Kaplan School at 9 a.m. last Wednesday when a loaded firearm was discovered on the BOCES school grounds. The weapon, a 9-millimeter Ruger, belonged to Gillian L. Jeffords, a 24-year-old teacher’s aide and licensed gun owner. The gun was found by a fellow staff member who noticed the weapon inside of Jeffords purse, which was hanging in a staff closet inside of one of the classrooms.
No students were in the classroom at the time of the incident, as most had not yet arrived at school; the campus was “less than 50 percent occupied,” according to BOCES Chief Operating Officer Mary Jean Marsico. Following proper protocol, the school initiated a lockdown, which remained in effect until Resource Officer Michael Maloney was able to safely secure the weapon, at which point the school resumed its normal schedule.
At no point was the gun displayed or used in a threating manner by Jeffords, according to a press release issued by the Clarkstown Police.
“We assure you that at no time was anyone in harm’s way,” said Dr. Marisco while addressing parent concerns during a press conference that followed the incident.
“We are very proud of the administrative teams’ appropriate response to the situation,” said the school administrator, who also thanked the Clarkstown Police Department and Officer Maloney for their professional conduct.
Town Supervisor George Hoehmann offered his gratitude toward the Clarkstown Police Department saying that “proper procedure was followed” and that all of the responders did an admirable job managing the situation.
Jeffords has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds, a felony in the state of New York. The BOCES aid also had her license to carry confiscated and has been suspended without pay. Jeffords “was cooperative and taken into custody without issue,” according to the Clarkstown Police Department.
Police would not speculate on Jeffords’ motives for bringing the weapon into school, though Clarkstown Police Detective Lt. Glenn Dietrich did say that even if it was an accident, her actions still constitute a felony. “As a gun owner with a permit, you should know what you can and cannot do,” he said, explaining “that it is against the law to carry a firearm on school grounds, regardless of whether you have a license.” Police also declined to comment on Jeffords’ criminal recorded repeatedly asserting that their investigation is still ongoing.
Jeffords was released without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on May 7, 2018. The BOCES employee will also face a disciplinary hearing that could take months, according to school spokesman Scott Salotto.