PV takes shelter from man on the run

Richard L. Coquel begged for money and fled cops, police say


Provided by the Hillsdale Police Department

Richard L. Coquel sent Pascack Valley High School into a “Shelter in Place” situation after fleeing into the woods behind the school.

Jamie Ryu, Staff Editor

PV was instructed to “shelter in place” by the Hillsdale Police Department on Thursday morning when Richard L. Coquel, a man eluding custody, was suspected to be in the woods near the school.

“This is the first time that the Police Department has contacted the school with a situation like this and asked them to take an action like a ‘shelter in place,’” Detective Bill Diedtrich of the Hillsdale Police Department said.

Despite this, “shelter in place” is a procedure that has been in place for a long time and has been implemented “five or six times in the past four years,” according to DeMaio.

“We got a phone call from the Hillsdale Police Department,” DeMaio said, “We have a great working relationship [with the police]. They told us about the situation and recommended that we close the campus down while they did what they needed to do.”

According to a post on the Hillsdale Police Department Facebook page, a call was placed to the police when Coquel was seen begging for money in the Hillsdale ShopRite parking lot. At the time the police arrived at the scene, the man’s vehicle was gone. The Paramus Municipal Court and Bergen County Sheriff’s Department both had warrants out for Coquel’s arrest. Coquel eventually parked his car on King’s Court in Woodcliff Lake, “exited the vehicle and fled into the woods.”

Everyone knows, staff-wise, what has to be done.”

— Chip Stalter

“We asked the administration to keep all students in the building,” Diedtrich said, “and the school administration determined that the ‘shelter in place’ was the best course of action.”

“Shelter in place” is a situation in which the school’s doors are locked and entrances are made secure but student activity inside the school is not halted. Neither students nor faculty are permitted to go in or out of the building. As a result, students are not allowed to use the breezeway. The courtyard is checked and the entrance to the school is closed off so that people can’t drive in.

“Everyone knows, staff-wise, what has to be done,” Chief Chip Stalter, one of the security guards at school said. “It’s something that we practice with the administrative staff.”

 A Woodcliff Lake police officer was located in the back of the school and the security guards monitored the interior and exterior of the building. Mr. John Puccio, Assistant Principal, sent emails to the staff with updates and made sure teachers and others were aware of the situation.

The ‘shelter in place’ began at around 10:45 a.m. and lasted about twenty minutes, ending when the Hillsdale Police Department called. Coquel was charged with eluding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, criminal mischief, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

“It went well.We have table top drills where we discuss ‘This is the situation. What do we have to do?’ Well, you plan, you have your procedures, you drill it,” Stalter said. “It just felt good to do my job.”