Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw and Mount Holly Township Police Chief Richard W. Spitler announced that a Rancocas Valley Regional High School assistant football coach who is also a teacher’s aide faces firearms charges after juveniles accessed an unsecured handgun in his personal vehicle earlier this month during a football game at the school.
The employee, Andrew Paden, 40, of Willingboro, then pressured one of the juveniles to provide false information to investigators, saying he was concerned he might lose his job.
Paden was charged yesterday with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Second Degree), Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds Without Permission (Third Degree) and Witnessing Tampering (Third Degree). He was released after being processed at the Mount Holly Township Police Department.
The case will now be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment. The school district has placed Paden on administrative leave.
The investigation began October 10 after Mount Holly police were contacted by school officials and advised that a student had come forward to say he saw kids inside Paden’s vehicle playing with a handgun during the junior varsity football game a day earlier.
The school was closed the day of the incident due to a state holiday. The investigation revealed that Paden had transported some of the juveniles to the game, and had given permission for them to be in his vehicle during the game.
The investigation further revealed that Paden subsequently went to the home of one of the juveniles in an attempt to get the juvenile to indicate the handgun was a fake firearm that he had brought with him to the game from his home.
The investigation was conducted by the Mount Holly Township Police Department.