Police have issued a citation to a man whose hunting trip in camouflage near Darien High School on Thursday led to emergency conditions going into place in the school and an email about it going to parents.
The hunter, Andrew Ham, 52, of Wilton, told police he had a longstanding verbal agreement with the owner of property near the school to allow him to hunt in the woods on the owner’s land, according to a Darien police announcement issued Wednesday. Darien police issued Ham an infraction ticket for trespassing.
Here’s Darienite.com’s original article (as updated) on the day of the incident:
- UPDATE: New Twist: Man in Camouflage Near High School Found After Earlier ‘Lock In’ at School (Nov. 17)
But, according to police, the owner said he hadn’t given permission, and the hunter didn’t have it in writing, as he was required to by state regulation, according to police. Also, the land where the hunter set up a hunting stand and put out bait was actually 30 feet west of the property owner’s land — in the woods owned by the town as part of the high school campus.
When someone saw the man in full camouflage leaving the woods at about 8:30 a.m. that day, police were called and the high school went into an emergency “lock in” that allowed students to go from class to class or room to room within the school, but not to leave the building.
The “lock in” appears to have ended shortly after it began, although school district officials called that day by Darienite.com didn’t return the calls asking about that detail and others concerning the event. Although high school parents on an email list were notified about the incident by the school district, the district made no announcement to the general public. Darien police did that hours later.
On the day of the incident, Darien police said that the hunter appeared to be on private property with permission of the owner, but that the matter was still under investigation.
Editor’s note: At 1:53 p.m., Darienite.com added the hunter’s full name to the article and his age, as provided by police.
Darien Police Announcement on Wednesday
Here’s the announcement, emailed at 11:59 a.m., Wednesday (it’s also on the Darien Police Department website, here):
On [Thursday] Nov. 17, 2016 at approximately 8:30 a.m., the Darien Police Department received a report of a white male dressed in full camouflage in the woods within close proximity to Darien High School.
Based on the report, the Darien High School and nearby nursery schools were alerted and took precautionary measures until the Darien Police determined that there wasn’t a danger. Officers remained in the area for the next several hours.
During a search of the area, officers discovered two tree stands and a deer bait station used for hunting. The stands and the bait station were located approximately 30 feet west of the property line of a Middlesex Road residence. This particular area is a very small wooded area that backs up to the property of the Darien High School.
The homeowner of the Middlesex Road residence indicated that he had not given anyone permission to use the property to hunt deer. It was later determined that this area of the woods was owned by the Town of Darien.
Officers then contacted the Town of Darien Department of Public Works who responded and removed the two tree stands and bait station. The property was brought back and secured at the Darien Police Department.
At approximately 12:30 p.m., the same day, officers identified the “suspicious person” as a local hunter. The hunter, Andrew Ham of Wilton, stated that he believed the area [where] he was hunting was an area he had authorization to be in. Ham, who possessed a valid hunting license, stated that he had set up three tree stands in the woods and bow hunts for deer. Ham stated that he left the woods around 8:30 that morning.
Ham explained that he has a long standing verbal agreement with a local property owner who he believed owned the land he was hunting. Since written permission is required to hunt on the property in question and the fact Ham was unable to produce any documentation indicating such, Ham was issued an infraction for simple trespass.
The complainant, the administration of Darien High School, and the United Methodist Preschool were advised that the situation has been resolved.