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Parent displays knife during Rocky Point school safety meeting

A parent displayed a closed pocket knife during

A parent displayed a closed pocket knife during a public meeting about school safety in Rocky Point on Wednesday, March 15, 2018, unsettling many in the crowd, according to a video posted on social media.  Credit: Jo Herman

A parent displayed a closed pocket knife during a public meeting about school safety Wednesday night at Rocky Point High School, unsettling some in the crowd, a video posted on social media shows.

In an email to parents Thursday, schools Superintendent Michael Ring said the man was trying to make a point but his approach “was ill-conceived and inappropriate for the venue.”

The incident happened just hours after dozens of Rocky Point students took part in a national walkout from classes to call for greater gun safety and to remember the 17 victims of a Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“Everybody kind of freaked out. It was scary,” said Jade Pinkenburg, 17, a senior at the school whom the man called up from the audience to help make his point. “He brought a weapon to school and it shocked everyone. No one knew who he was.”

Suffolk County police investigating the incident said they did not yet know the identity of the man. School officials would say only that he is a parent from the district.

Pinkenburg said the man stood to address the school board’s health and safety committee after the student told board members he believes there shouldn’t be armed guards in the school.

When Pinkenburg finished his comments, he said he went to the back of the room and the man asked him to return to the front.

A video shows the man standing at the front with Pinkenburg opposite him, the man holding one hand in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt as he begins to make his point about school safety.

“I’m considerably larger than you, OK?” the man says, walking closer to Pinkenburg. “If something happened, if I decided to attack you, it would take the cops three to five minutes to come here — probably 10 if the traffic’s bad.”

The man then takes the knife out of his pocket, holds it in the air and asks the student, “What are you gonna do now? What are you gonna do now?”

In an interview, Pinkenburg said he “had no idea what was happening. He was in my face a bit and I didn’t know what he was about to do. When I realized, I kind of jumped back. My legs got weak and my heart was beating fast.”

“Stop it! Stop it!” Pinkenburg’s father, Chris, 54, yells at the man as his son runs to the back of the room after the man displays the knife.

A board member tells the man that his actions were “inappropriate.” The man says to the board member, “No it’s not inappropriate . . . I’ll tell you why . . .”

Someone demands the man be ejected from the building.

“Everyone was stunned and other people started chiming in,” before a security consultant escorted the man out, Chris Pinkenburg said Thursday in an interview.

Chris Pinkenburg said he didn’t ever think anything was going to happen to his son, “but it was still scary.”

“He was out to intimidate my son, you can see it in the video,” Pinkenburg said. “I didn’t hear it was a demonstration, so I started yelling to stop because he’s my kid and he started to look scared. He said he has two daughters. Why didn’t he use them?”

Jo Herman, a senior also at the meeting, said, “It was terrifying for everyone. . . . Nobody expected that to happen.”

A police spokeswoman said the school notified police, and the Seventh Precinct crime section is investigating. She declined to comment on what if any charges could be filed.

Ring, in his email to parents, addressed the incident:

“During a discussion on the topic of armed security guards, a parent in attendance attempted to conduct a demonstration to reinforce his belief that all school districts should have such resources at their disposal. While the district firmly acknowledges that the demonstration was ill-conceived and inappropriate for the venue, we believe that the act was not intended to compromise the safety of those in attendance.”

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