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June 09, 2007
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N.J. student approaching officer with scissors shot

No danger to students during shooting of 15-year-old

WILLINGBORO, N.J. — Officials at a school where a teenage student was shot by police defended how they dealt with the situation.

A 15-year-old student at Garfield Park Academy, a private school for students with behavioral or emotional problems, was shot Thursday by a police officer after the student moved toward officers while wielding two pairs of scissors.

"No students were ever in any danger. This incident was handled perfectly while it was in the schools hands," said Dr. Steven Morse, the school's director, in a statement posted on the academy's Web site.

The student, whose identity has been withheld, was shot twice after he refused repeated orders by police officers to put down the scissors. He was taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

A police union representative, Kevin Vernon, told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill for Saturday's newspapers, that the student's actions "made this incident unavoidable."

Vernon described the student as "severely disturbed."

The student was in a special evening program designed specifically for him and separate from other students, the school said in the statement.

Police were called to the school after receiving several calls reporting that a student was threatening teachers there.

The officer involved in the shooting, Sgt. William Smith, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure following a police-involved shooting. The incident was being investigated by the Burlington County Prosecutor's office and the state Attorney General's office.

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