Police: Southbridge teacher planted live round in stairwell to ‘prove’ need for metal detectors

DUDLEY, MASS. (WHDH) - A Southbridge High School science teacher who planted a live round in a stairwell, prompting a lockdown on Thursday morning, allegedly told police that he wanted to “prove to the school that they needed to get metal detectors,” officials said.

Alfred J. Purcell III, of Woodstock, Connecticut, was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Dudley District Court on charges including two counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, two counts of carrying ammunition on school grounds, disturbing a school assembly, and disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

Purcell was caught on surveillance video standing in the stairwell and removing the live round of ammunition from his pocket around 8:12 a.m., according to the Southbridge Police Department.

He was then observed dropping the round on the floor before fleeing the area. He allegedly returned to the stairwell about 10 minutes later to take a photo with his cellphone and then used his school-issued radio to request assistance from the school administration and a resource officer.

The school was placed into lockdown and Purcell returned to his class with his students. The lockdown was lifted after about an hour.

Alfred J. Purcell III (Southbridge Police Department)

Based on the video evidence, Purcell was arrested and taken to Southbridge police headquarters.

During the booking process, he allegedly admitted to intentionally dropping the round to prove the school was needed to install metal detectors. Police say officers could also detect a “faint odor of an alcoholic beverage” emanating from Purcell’s breath.

A subsequent search of Purcell’s car is said to have yielded 102 live rounds of .20 gauge shotgun ammunition. It was later confirmed that Purcell’s license to carry a firearm was expired in Connecticut.

Southbridge Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Villar says Purcell was disciplined earlier in the school year for “failure to establish a safe classroom environment.”

Purcell was ordered held on $500 bail. He is due back in court at a later date.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)