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Cops: Man had non-operable gun near East Patchogue school

The Verne W. Critz Elementary School on North

The Verne W. Critz Elementary School on North Dunton Avenue in East Patchogue was placed on lockdown. (Jan. 29, 2013) Credit: Robert Garofalo

An East Patchogue elementary school lockdown was lifted Tuesday after police found a man nearby carrying a gun -- though the weapon was "not operating" and children were not in danger, Suffolk police said.

Peter Perez, 31, of Medford had no apparent intention of harming anyone and appeared to know that the weapon was broken, police said.

He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a hypodermic needle, after the Suffolk police responded with Aviation and Emergency Services units.

Suffolk County police said the initial 911 call, received at 11:36 a.m., reported "a suspicious person" who it "appeared had a rifle" and was seen near the Verne W. Critz Elementary School.

As the school went on lockdown status, police said, the street on which the school is located, Dunton Avenue, also was closed.

In a note to parents on the school's website, South Country schools superintendent Howard Koenig said the incident "occurred outside the grounds" of the school.

"A resident reported seeing a man with a weapon in the vicinity of the school," Koenig said in the note. "As soon as the school was notified, the school went onto immediate lockdown. Our children are safe and secure. Police responded and are monitoring the exterior of the school and are providing security at the school. The police have recovered the weapon and apprehended the individual.

With Joseph Mallia

and Bill Mason

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