A former employee for a private boarding school in Southborough, Massachusetts, appeared in court Friday after police say he threatened to shoot up the facility last week.
David Pepper, 51, of Webster, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment in Westborough District Court. He was also ordered to undergo a dangerousness hearing.
A spokesperson from the Fay School said Pepper made statements Sept. 21 against members of the school after he received feedback about his job performance as a custodian.
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Prosecutors said he told a co-worker it would be a good day to "shoot up the school" and for "a sniper to be up in a tree."
His court-appointed attorney said he initially denied making threats.
"The defendant initially denied having made any threats and then later acknowledged that he had made threats but said he was only joking," said Pepper's attorney.
Prosecutors said Pepper made the comments to a co-worker while the two were in a golf cart on campus, at which time, Pepper pulled out a utility knife.
"He placed the utility knife in one of the front compartments and said to that fellow employee, 'I better put this away so I don’t use it,'" said the prosecutor.
Authorities said the co-worker reported the incident to school officials, who then fired Pepper after they called Southborough police.
"Mr. Pepper absolutely denies there were any threats made or intended," said Pepper's attorney.
"We had not received any other reports of threatening behavior prior to his termination on Friday," Rob Gustavson, the head of the private boarding school, said in a letter to parents. "I want to assure you that the safety and well-being of our students is always our highest priority."
Pepper is due back in court Oct. 2 for the dangerous hearing.