Convicted drug dealer puts Rider on alert

by Julia Ernst

Students staying on Rider’s Westminster campus over winter break received surprising instructions on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 6.

“We have been notified by the Princeton Township Police that a minimum security prisoner has escaped from Montgomery Township,” read an e-mail sent to all Rider students. “We are advising all students and employees on the Westminster campus to stay inside until further notice.”

Marc Harris, 22, of Pleasantville, fled Skillman Farm at about 9:40 a.m., according to news releases. Harris was serving three years for drug distribution.

Skillman Farm is located about seven miles away from the Princeton campus, according to GoogleMaps. Information from the New Jersey Department of Corrections, says that the farm allows inmates to “receive training and experience that may qualify them to gain employment when they leave the prison system.”

A follow-up e-mail the next day informed students that Harris “has not yet been apprehended” and asked all Westminster students and faculty to “exercise caution when moving around campus.”

In addition to the e-mail updates, additional Public Safety personnel were on hand to patrol the campus, including escorts to and from different locations on campus.

Any fears or concerns that students had were put to rest two days later, on Thursday, Jan 8, when a final e-mail was sent to all students.

“We have been informed that the minimum security prisoner who escaped in Montgomery Township on Tuesday was captured this morning in Vineland, N.J.,” the e-mail began. “We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this incident.”

Senior Ellen Thompson was in Princeton at the time.

“When I got back to Rider that night, after walking to my car in what was almost dusk in Princeton, by myself, I checked my phone messages,” Thompson said. “I had three messages explaining the security risk due to the ‘low-security prisoner.’”

However, Thompson felt that the university handled the situation very well.

“I don’t think I felt that threatened in any way,” Thompson said. “I think it was nice that there were extra precautions made and that they took students who were back over break into account when they made the decision to inform the community.”

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