Elementary Teacher Threatened to Shoot, Infect Others Over Removal of COVID Barrier: Police

A Pennsylvania elementary school teacher allegedly threatened to shoot and infect other people with COVID-19 if he became sick after a plastic barrier he put up in his classroom to protect against the virus was removed.

Chad Gerrick, 50, a sixth-grade teacher at Sinking Springs Elementary School in York, was arrested Friday on a charge of terroristic threat, the York Daily Record reported.

Gerrick allegedly had a conversation with school administration earlier in the morning after maintenance staff took down the plastic barrier, the Daily Record reported.

Later that day, a cafeteria worker overheard him threatening to shoot everyone at the Central York Educational Service Center if he became infected with the virus.

Police allege he said, "I don't care how sick I am, I will come in to school and spread COVID to everyone that I can," according to the Daily Record.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at his home and found nine long guns and one handgun. They did not find weapons in his vehicle, which was parked at the school, the newspaper reported.

Gerrick had taught science and math in the district for more than 18 years, according to the Daily Record.

Nicole Montgomery, director of communications and marketing for the district, told Newsweek that Gerrick is on leave and the school district is working with police throughout the investigation.

"We are aware that Mr. Chad Gerrick was arrested on Friday, October 8. Central York School District is currently working closely with Northern Regional Police Department during this ongoing investigation. Mr. Gerrick is on leave at this time. The District cannot share any additional information on this personnel matter," the statement said.

He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing October 22, according to the York Daily Record.

York is a city of about 44,800 people located about 100 miles west of Philadelphia, according to U.S. Census data.

As schools have reopened for in-person learning this year, tensions have run high among students, teachers and parents.

Between August 1 and September 15, there were 30 instances of gunfire in U.S. schools, killing five and injuring 23. The previous record was set in 2019 when 16 incidents took place.

Disputes over mask mandates in schools have fueled threats against education workers, notably school board members. In Tennessee, anti-mask activists allegedly threatened to halt entry into a school over the mandates. In September, the National School Boards Association asked the federal government to help stop school board threats, calling them a form of domestic terrorism.

In August, a high school teacher in Kentucky allegedly grabbed a student's hair and refused to let go during an altercation that occurred after the teacher criticized his bandana-style neck gaiter he wore to protect himself from the virus.

Classroom
A Pennsylvania teacher is accused of threatening to shoot and infect others with COVID-19 after a plastic barrier meant to prevent the virus from spreading was removed from his classroom. Here, a classroom is seen in August 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. John Moore/Getty Images