Family says NJ overreacted to boy's gun photo

March 20, 2013 3:38:08 PM PDT
When Shawn Moore of Carneys Point posted a photo of his 11-year-old, the intent was to show off his son's birthday present.

Neighbors say it's not surprising that Moore would give him what at least appeared to be a military-style assault rifle.

Moore is an avid sportsman and shooting instructor.

"I'm about to take a hunting test, actually," said neighbor Caitlyn Slesser. "And he's going to be one of the instructors. I'm used to seeing with people with guns all the time, so I don't see any harm as long as it's not a crazy person with a gun."

But others who saw the photo online WERE surprised.

And so someone made an anonymous call to the authorities.

It didn't take long before the police arrived with child welfare workers.

"In this case, the safety concern was regarding weapons and ammunition accessible to this child. In light of some recent school shootings across our nation, the Carneys Point Police Department takes these types of calls seriously," said Carneys Point Police Chief Robert DiGregorio.

DiGregorio said Moore seemed drunk when he refused to give police access to his gun safe.

Investigators did not arrive with a search warrant, and so Moore ordered them to leave.

The following morning Moore told his version of what happened online, posting a photo of the scene outside his home the night before.

He then wrote, "The fight has officially been brought to my front door."

Later, he added, "After a while of them threatening to take my kids, get warrants and intimidation, they left empty-handed and seeing nothing."

But Carneys Point Mayor Richard Gatanis disputes with that version, saying the responding officers behaved professionally and appropriately.

He adds that the investigators had a legal obligation to respond once New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) got involved.

"When DYFS calls us, we have to react. We cannot sit back and wait and ignore it. And our police department did everything they were supposed to, by the book. They went out there and took care of the situation," said Gatanis.

Late Wednesday, the Moore family attorney told Action News, "How a photo leads to a nighttime raid of my client's home is unfathomable, nothing short of heavy-handed and chilling."

DiGregorio said unless DYFS plans to pursue the case further, as far as he's concerned no crime was committed, and this case is closed.