Man thanks cops who arrested him for bringing loaded gun, ammo to school

Man thanks cops who arrested him for bringing loaded gun, ammo to school
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A man sentenced to prison after police detained him for bringing a loaded gun outside a New Jersey elementary school last June thanked the officers who arrested him, calling his actions "unconscionable, frightening, and unacceptable."

Thomas Wilkie, a 45-year-old man from Delaware, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon and was sentenced to five years in prison. He must serve a minimum of 42 months behind bars before he is eligible for parole, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.

Wilkie was arrested near a school in Westfield, N.J., for having a loaded gun and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle. The New Castle County Police Department in Delaware informed local law enforcement officers that Wilkie was on his way to the school and possibly armed.

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Police found Wilkie outside Tamaques Elementary School on June 13, 2019. Wilkie's father, George, said his son went to the school to see a current or former girlfriend, according to a report from NJ.com.

"The bravery and professionalism demonstrated by Officers Jeffrey Johnson and Michael Pollack of the Westfield Police Department was exemplary," acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo said in a statement, NJ.com reported. "Their quick thinking and heroism deescalated a situation that easily could have turned tragic."

Authorities did not claim Wilkie intended to harm anyone at the scene, but the incident resulted in a school lockdown, causing fear among guardians and parents.

Wilkie admitted he owned the weapons and ammunition only for self-defense, claiming his business at the school was only to visit a teacher that he contacted prior to coming to the school, according to court documents.

He described his actions as "unconscionable, frightening, and unacceptable" and thanked the officers who arrested him.