‘Suicidal’ gunman at NJ school was looking for lover, cops say
WESTFIELD — An armed Delaware man was suicidal and went into an elementary school in this township last week to look for his lover, police said.
Thomas J. Wilkie, 46, was arrested June 13 in the parking lot of Tamaques Elementary School after police saw him sitting in a car and holding a handgun in his lap.
Union County prosecutors on Wednesday are expected to ask a Superior Court judge to keep Wilkie locked up until his trial.
Police said Wilkie was suicidal and a danger to himself and others before his arrest.
The arrest was announced last week but prosecutors released few details. New Jersey 101.5 obtained copies of criminal complaints and affidavits from police that provide further insight into the investigation.
Township police said they received a call from New Castle County Police in Delaware alerting them that Wilkie would be at the school and that he may be armed. Police in Delaware had been alerted by Wilkie's brother, who Wilkie had called while he was at the school.
After police arrived about 3:53 p.m. and found Wilkie in a black 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, they learned from the principal that Wilkie had walked into the building several times and had asked to speak to a particular teacher.
Wilkie said he went to the school to look for his lover. The teacher, however, was not at the school when he arrived after the final bell, police said.
The teacher told police that she received a call from Wilkie about 3:36 p.m. asking whether he could stay at her place.
A law enforcement source told NBC New York that while Wilkie waited for the woman to return, he called his brother, who became concerned and called Delaware State Police.
Wilkie had been living with his parents in Delaware but had said on Facebook that he had been homeless. Police described him in court documents as chronically unemployed. He is divorced and was paying child support, according to federal bankruptcy filing obtained by New Jersey 101.5.
Police said his .45-caliber Glock was loaded with hollow-point bullets. He had two more clips in his pockets and boxes with about 120 bullets in his trunk. He also had a pocketknife in his waistband, police said.
The school, which still had students and staff involved with after-school activities, was placed on lockdown for several hours as police searched for victims and potential accomplices.
News that Wilkie was able to walk into the building has prompted an online petition by parents seeking better security.
Wilike told police that he had brought the gun for protection and that he had it on his lap so that he could disassemble it, police said in an affidavit.
His father told an NJ.com reporter that he did not know where Wilkie got his weapon. In his bankruptcy filing in May, Wilklie claimed that he did not own any firearms.
His bankruptcy filing also said that his only vehicles — a 2018 Harley Davidson Fatboy and a 2017 Ford Mustang GT — had been repossessed in March and April.
The filing also said that he suffers from “severe bipolar illness."
Wilike is being represented by the Public Defender’s Office, which has not provided comment on the charges.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.