As the search for an inmate who escaped from a minimum security prison weeks before he was due for parole continued Wednesday, police advised all Barnegat Township residents to stay inside their homes and keep their doors locked. Police also said a helicopter would be in the air during the search.
The advisory was sent out the same day some South Jersey schools were put on lockdown.
Barnegat Township Police sent out a Nixle alert that all schools in town were on lockdown "however there is not threat to schools." The Surf City Police Department also put out an alert that LBI Schools, including EJ School, were put into a "shelter in place" as a precaution with "no immediate danger" to anyone. Wednesday night Barnegat Township Police announced all schools in the district would be open Thursday. They also said police officers would be present at each of the district schools during the entire day.
The lockdowns in the Ocean County Township came as police searched for escapee Arthur Buckel in the area, said police sources with knowledge of the investigation.
Corrections Department spokesman Matt Schuman said the 38-year-old inmate was missing when guards at the Ancora unit of Bayside State Prison in Winslow Township did a count at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Schuman said Buckel, whose last known address was Clifton, was serving a sentence at the minimum security lockup for aggravated assault. He was scheduled to be paroled on May 21.
Barnegat Police posted surveillance photos of Buckel at a CVS Wednesday morning.
Buckel -- who stands 5-foot, 9-inches tall and weighs around 180 pounds -- worked as a janitor in the prison.
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It wasn't clear how (and if) Buckel could have made the more than 40 miles journey from the Camden County prison to the Ocean City township.
Schuman said Buckel could face an addition 3 to 5 years in prison for escaping once he's recaptured.