EAST PATCHOGUE - A man spotted carrying a rifle near an East Patchogue elementary school prompted a lockdown today, but investigators now say the man didn't pose a danger to the neighborhood.
Police say they received calls about a man with a gun near Verne W. Critz Elementary School at around noon. School officials called parents to alert them to the situation as the building went into lockdown mode, and many frightful parents quickly turned up to take their children home.
A short time later, police arrested a man who lives in a house right next door to the school. Investigators say that he did have a rifle, but they describe it as an "inoperable old relic," and say he was in the street with it for reasons that have not yet been determined.
Police say the man, identified as 31-year-old Peter Perez, may have been showing the gun off to someone and simply didn't realize that his behavior was a cause for concern. Police say the man is facing charges because he was found with syringes, but he is not facing weapons charges at this time.
Parents tell News 12 Long Island that they're relieved that the scare turned out to be nothing serious, but some say incidents like this are becoming all too common.