Police: JFK gun incident suspect claims he was picking up a friend for target practice

In a statement released on Facebook on Friday morning, Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper wrote that the suspect arrested at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton after allegedly bringing two pellet guns onto the campus said he was there to pick up a friend and go target shooting.

The man , Matthew Borsuk, 27, of Florence, was seen removing a long-barreled rifle from the trunk of his car, and police were called at 2:10 p.m. Thursday, according to Kasper. Police Sgt. Grzegorz Korepta arrived on the scene within one minute of the dispatch call and found the man and vehicle in question, the statement read.

“In a subsequent interview Borsuk stated that he was at the school to pick up an adult friend and they were planning to go target shooting at a later time,” the report read. “Since he had some time while he was waiting, he decided to sit outside of the school, remove the weapon from his trunk, and put it together. He indicated that he had no intention of entering the school or using the weapon at that time.”

Borsuk faces charges of disturbing a school assembly and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school property. He was found with the two pellet guns, ammunition, a scope, and about 0.4 ounces of marijuana, according to Kasper.

The middle school went on lock down Thursday afternoon, during which time students sheltered in place.

“We know this was a very difficult event for those who were inside the school and for other members of our community. We’re thankful for the swift action of the staff and students at JFK Middle School, the Dispatchers at Northampton Public Safety, the responding officers from NPD, and to those from outside agencies,” Kasper wrote.

Meanwhile, some students at both JFK Middle School and Northampton High School are wearing black on Friday to advocate for stricter gun control laws.

A joint statement from Northampton High student Charilyn Strader and JFK student Halle Pashkin, who have led gun control activism at their respective schools in the past, expressed frustration at the slow pace of legislation around gun control.

“It was terrifying to just sit in the dark on the floor of the computer room thinking that another school shooting could take place, hoping that it was nothing and everything was a dream,” Pashkin said in the statement. “It was pitch black and only a few cries and whispers could be heard. No one ever thinks that things like this can happen in Northampton.”

The statement also brought attention to the a “red flag” gun bill passed by both the state House and Senate, which may soon find its way to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. The bill would allow the temporary removal of firearms from people considered a danger to themselves or others.

“It’s absurd that Massachusetts, arguably one of the most progressive states, doesn’t already have these protective laws established,” the student statement read.

 Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@valleyadvocate.com.

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