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Editor’s Note: This story will be updated if more information becomes available.
A 21-year-old custodian was arrested on March 6 after Westford police caught him in possession of a 9mm Ruger handgun at the Crisafulli School where he was employed.
As the nation comes to terms with the recent killing of 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the firearm discovery touched off a firestorm in Westford. Regional broadcasters covered the story and many residents weighed in on a social media discussion either condemning or defending custodian James Healy.
The matter began with an anonymous tip to the Westford Academy school resource officer. The tip alerted the officer of a photo posted to a social media page showing Healy with a firearm, according to Superintendent Everett V. Olsen, who issued a public statement late on March 6.
“The police department investigated ownership of the weapon,” Olsen stated. “Upon interviewing the custodian, detectives found a loaded handgun in the trunk of the custodian’s car on school grounds.” Healy was arrested and subsequently dismissed from his job.
Healy, who does not have a license to carry, was charged with two counts of possession of a large capacity firearm, and one count each for possession of ammunition, carrying a firearm on school grounds, improper storage of the firearm, and possession of a defaced firearm serial number.
Healy, who lives at 57 North Main Street, Westford, was arraigned in Ayer District Court on March 7 and will appear again on March 28. Bail was set at $2,000 cash but he remains at the Middlesex House of Correction and Jail in Billerica, according to Debora Mickle, Courthouse liaison. When reached by phone, Attorney Thomas Martin, who represented him at the arraignment, declined comment. If convicted, Healy faces a minimum of 18 months imprisonment, according to state law. There is no record of a criminal history on Healy, according to Westford Police Capt. Victor Neal.
The incident comes less than a month after the Parkland school shootings stunned the country. On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, allegedly, carried a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle inside the Florida high school of approximately 3,000 students and began shooting. In addition to the 17 killed, 16 were injured, according to the Sun-Sentinel of Broward County.
In the mid afternoon on March 7, WA Principal James Antonelli issued a letter to parents and guardians assuring them that “school safety is paramount to the Westford Academy School Administration and there are layers of precautions taken on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.”
Antonelli noted that an armed and trained school resource officer is on campus, symbolized by a marked Westford Police Department cruiser parked outside the school building.
“…my message to everyone in our school community is ‘see something, say something,'” stated the principal.
UPDATE – The following was added after publication: There is no history of a criminal record on James Healy. That Healy remains in prison was attributed.