A Massachusetts school crossing guard has been relieved of duty and had his personal firearms confiscated for alleged threats to the Tisbury School overheard by a waitress at a restaurant in Oak Bluffs.
Stephen Nichols, 84, was a police officer for more than six decades and served in the Army during the Korean War.He says he made no threats to the school, but had criticized its school resource officer in a conversation with a friend. He said the conversation was taken out of context.
Attorney Dan Larkosh is representing Nichols, and he says he will file an appeal of the decision by Tisbury Police Chief to seize guns owned by Nichols, as well as his license to carry.
No criminal charges have been filed against Nichols.
“Nichols said he was unimpressed with the Tisbury School resource officer’s alleged trips to Xtra Mart to get coffee when children came to school in the morning. While dining at Linda Jean’s a couple of weeks ago, Nichols said he told a friend about this and suggested somebody could “shoot up the school” in that officer’s absence, which he described as “leaving his post.”
Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, the officers went to Nichols' home and took his firearms as well as his license to carry — which the former Morse code specialist had held since 1958.
He says he was also relived of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them.
“Linda Jean’s owner Marc Hanover said he’s known Nichols for decades and vouched for his integrity. He described the situation as “absolutely outrageous.” He said he believes one of his servers “overreacted.” Hanover said he spoke with the restaurant patron who had conversed with Nichols at the time of the alleged threats.
“He assured me there was never a threat made,” Hanover said.
In a released statement, Police Chief Mark Saloio, who was actively involved in the investigation of Nichols, writes "The town, collectively, has expressed an outpouring of concern about Mr. Nichols, and his employment as a school crossing guard. We as well share those concerns. We wish to make you aware that today, Mr. Nichols was informed that he may return to his crossing guard duties tomorrow morning."
Dan Larkosh of the Edgartown firm Larkosh and Jackson represents Nichols. He said he is pleased Nichols was reinstated. Nevertheless, he intends to file an appeal of the decision by Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio to seize guns owned by Nichols, as well as his license to carry. Larkosh said his firm has received repeated offers to contribute to Nichols’ legal costs, including from some national organizations.