A teacher in the Connecticut school district where 20 students and six educators were gunned down in 2012 has been arrested after police said he brought a concealed gun into a school.
Jason M. Adams, 46, was arrested Wednesday, the Newtown Police Department said in a statement.
Adams, a science teacher, is accused of bringing a gun, which he legally owns and is permitted to carry, into Newtown Middle School at about 9 a.m. Wednesday. He has been charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds, police say.
He was released from custody on a promise to appear in court April 20.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Adams Was Taken Into Custody by an Armed Security Officer
Jason Adams, who also lives in Newtown, was taken into custody by an armed security guard, police told the Hartford Courant. School officials then called police.
Another teacher saw Adams with the gun and told the security officer, who is a retired Shelton, Connecticut, police officer.
It’s not yet clear where Adams had the gun or why he brought it to the school.
There were no students in the building at the time, the Courant reports. There was a two-hour delayed opening for students on Wednesday for staff meetings.
“In addition the Newtown Police Department has contacted the State’s Licensing and Permit Unit and has made them aware of the arrest,” police said in a statement.
2. He Has Been Suspended by the School District, Which Called the Incident ‘Serious & Troubling’
The Newtown School District said Adams has been suspended pending an investigation. Along with it being a crime to bring a weapon on school grounds in Connecticut, it is also against district policy, officials said.
“This matter is very serious and troubling, both the Newtown Public School system and the Newtown Police Department took immediate steps to address the matter, the school district said in a statement. “The teacher was immediately detained by security personnel. The teacher has additionally been placed on administrative leave pending an administrative investigation. Both agencies have been working closely together to investigate the incident and are taking precautions to ensure the continued safety of our students, staff and community members.”
The school district put police officers in each school after the 2012 massacre, but has since replaced most of the officers with armed security guards, many of whom are retired police officers.
Newtown Police Chief James Viadero told the Danbury News-Times security precautions recently put in place were “instrumental” in the “quick and appropriate response” to the incident.
“This close working relationship between the school system and law enforcement personnel is essential in resolving incidents of this nature,” Viadero told the newspaper.
3. Adams Has Taught Middle School Science in Newtown Since 2006
Adams has been a science teacher in Newtown Middle School since 2006, according to his Linkedin profile.
He says in a description on the Linkedin page, he has “collaborated with Professional Learning Community in design of multiple interdisciplinary curriculum units and performance assessments. Worked extensively with colleagues within the department and district wide. I have also participated in district professional development initiative on writing across the curriculum and in the development of the concept based curriculum documents in line with new generation science standards.”
He seems to be a popular teacher, according to reviews on RateMyTeacher.com.
“Mr. Adams is a chill teacher. Very laid back, he is very helpful if you are having trouble with anything. His class is easy and fun and that’s why I loved science this year. Sometimes he has some jam sessions and rocks out so some music,” one student wrote in 2014.
“He’s the best teacher in the whole middle school in my opinion, and is extremely chill about everything. He’s really into Zeppelin and Bob Marley and relates well with students,” another student wrote.
4. Parents of the Sandy Hook Shooting Victims Say They Are ‘Dismayed’ by the Incident
Parents of two Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims issued a statement after Adams arrest.
“We are dismayed that this could happen in a school, especially one in a community as traumatized as Newtown. We commend the Newtown Police Department and Newtown Public Schools for their thoughtful handling of the arrest of science teacher Jason Adams for violating the law by bringing a weapon onto school grounds.” Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden said.
Hockley and Barden are the co-founders of Sandy Hook Promise.
Scott Wilson, president of the gun owner’s rights group Connecticut Citizens Defense League, told the Hartford Courant, “We disagree with the law as far as permit holders not being able to carry on school grounds. However, the law is the law and hopefully this person had the intent to protect students from harm’s way in a worst case scenario.”
5. Adams Graduated From the University of Maine With a Degree in Botany
Adams is originally from Maine, and he graduated from the University of Maine in 1993 with a degree in botany, he says on Linkedin.
He later attended the University of Bridgeport, where he completed a master’s degree in secondary education and training in 2005.
Adams also owns The Gardens Limited, a design company, which he has run in Newtown since 1995.
“Former professional gardener. I design all of my gardens to be sublime with a focus on texture and continuity. I also propagate much of my material–particularly the unusual. I consider myself a plants person,” he wrote on Linkedin. “I also have some considerable experience care taking estates. I am currently on a 27 acre estate, which I maintain in my spare time. You can see pictures of my work on my website.”
Before becoming a teacher Adams worked as a gardener at Meadowbrook Farms and was the maintenance supervisor at The Growing Concern Inc., while in college.