August 21, 2015
By Kurt Bresswein
A 59-year-old man brandishing a knife Thursday at Hackettstown Middle School told responding police to shoot him before approaching officers and getting hit with pepper spray and a Taser, authorities said.
Officers responded to the report of a suspicious man with blood on his throat about 2:55 p.m. at the 500 Washington St. school in town, according to Hackettstown police Sgt. Darren Tynan.
Police found the man, identified as Hackettstown resident Thomas Bell, on the school’s basketball courts with a large kitchen knife protruding from the rear waistband of his shorts, Tynan said Thursday night in a news release.
Officers secured the area and called in the Warren County Police Tactical Unit. A few employees of the school were on site and sheltered in place, police said; no students were there at the time.
Investigators opened a dialogue with Bell, who refused to comply with police commands to drop the knife as he waved it around and said, “Today is the day, you will have to shoot me,” Tynan relays.
Bell approached police still displaying the knife, and police hit him with the pepper spray, according to Tynan.
“A dialogue was continued and the male subject was subsequently Tased by a member of the Warren County Tactical Team,” Tynan states in the release.
Bell was then taken into custody and transported to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center for treatment of cuts to his head and throat, according to Tynan.
Bell is charged with terroristic threats, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.
Bail was set at $20,000, with plans to send him to the Warren County jail upon his discharge from the hospital, according to police.
Assisting Hackettstown detectives and the tactical team were police from Mansfield and Independence townships, the Hackettstown Rescue Squad, Hackettstown Fire Department, Warren County Prosecutor’s Office and Hackettstown Public Works Department.