Ex-employee arrested on second and third-degree charges

By Sarah Siock and Stephen Neukam

James T. Lockhart Jr., 47, of Trenton, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with second-degree false public alarm and third-degree terroristic threats, the Lawrence Township Police Department announced on Feb. 24.

Lockhart, a former employee for a campus contractor at Rider, was taken into custody after making threats to a former colleague on Feb. 17. The incident prompted school administrators to order the campus into a shelter in place.

Lockhart was still incarcerated at the Mercer County Correction Center as of Feb. 24.

The university alerted students to the possible threat posed by Lockhart on the night of Feb. 16, with an email, which included his photo, warning students not to approach the man and to call Public Safety if he was spotted. The next day, administrators put out a more urgent warning, advising the community to lock doors and stay away from windows. It was not reported in the email whether Lockhart was on campus or not.

According to administrators, Lockhart was arrested at his home. Federal regulations require the university to alert the community to threats. However, the rules allow the school leeway in what information to report, including the subject’s name and other identifiable information.

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In an email sent after Lockhart was arrested on Feb. 17, the university clarified information about its warning system. The email included that the threats were, “directed and imminent” which led the university to issue a shelter in place, that directed everyone on campus to remain in place until further notice, “so as not to potentially be in harm’s way.”

“In an emergency situation, when information is often not available in abundance, we will always err on the side of caution and issue immediate directives via RiderAlert to students, faculty and staff to help ensure their safety,” said the statement. 

The university issued Lockhart a Persona Non-Grata letter which prohibits him from entering or being on University property.

Caption: Lockhart was charged after making threats against a former colleague at Rider.

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