PATERSON — Four people including three juveniles and an 18-year-old man have been arrested following a violent fight at a local school that nearly escalated into a full-blown firefight, according to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes.

Paterson cops at John F. Kennedy High School reported seizing three loaded handguns after bringing the situation under control.

The fight involving multiple students broke out shortly before 11 a.m. Friday morning, Valdes said. Cops at the school managed to separate the students and found one 17-year-old student in possession of a loaded handgun. The juvenile was charged with multiple weapons offenses and taken into custody.

John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson. (Google Maps)
John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson. (Google Maps)

A 14-year-old student involved in the fight, who did not have a firearm, is also accused of making threats to commit a shooting at the school. The teen was charged with the juvenile delinquency equivalent of third-degree terroristic threats and released pending proceedings in Family Court.

Soon after the fight had ended, two people showed up at the school's front doors. One of them, a 15-year-old teen, began aggressively pounding on the doors demanding to get inside, according to Valdes. Authorities said the doors were secure and the school was already on lockdown at that time.

The 15-year-old is also accused of threatening to commit a shooting at the school while banging on the doors. Officials said the teen was accompanied by an 18-year-old Paterson man identified as Desmar Ferguson.

Police arrested Ferguson and the 15-year-old juvenile and found loaded handguns on both of them, Valdes said.

Ferguson is charged with second-degree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose, second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, third-degree receiving stolen property, fourth-degree obstruction, and resisting arrest. Valdes said prosecutors will seek pretrial detention for him.

The 15-year-old was also charged with juvenile equivalents of terroristic threats and weapons offenses and taken into custody.

"Thanks to the quick response by the off-duty officers at the school and the subsequent action taken by our patrol officers, a violent outcome has been prevented," Mayor Andre Sayegh told on Friday.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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New Jersey high school graduation rates

The lists below show 4-year graduation rates for New Jersey public schools for the 2020-21 school year. The statewide graduation rate fell slightly, from 91% in 2019-20 to 90.6%.

The lists, which are sorted by county and include a separate list for charter schools, also include a second graduation rate, which excludes students whose special education IEPs allow them to qualify for diplomas despite not meeting typical coursework and attendance requirements.

Columns with an asterisk or 'N' indicate there was no data or it was suppressed to protect student privacy.

Average SAT scores for all NJ high schools, 2020-21

Average SAT scores for the 2020-2021 school year are listed by county, from highest to lowest. Data includes the combined score, as well as the average scores on the math and reading/writing sections.

Participation rates show the share of 12th graders in the Class of 2021 who took the SAT in 2020-21 or in prior years.

High schools aren't listed if there is no data or the number of students participating was low enough that average scores were not publicly reported to protect student privacy.

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