Holyoke’s Mayor and Police Chief issue statement on school safety

Both the Mayor and the Chief want to assure parents their kids are safe

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Police Chief James Neiswanger issued a joint statement Sunday night reassuring parents their kids are safe in city schools.

The message came after the publication of a list of students’ names in social media following a controversial school assembly.  The statement also followed the arrest of a man suspected of assaulting and attempting to abduct a Holyoke High School student Thursday.


Man arrested for alleged assault of Holyoke High School student


On Friday, Robert’s Field was vandalized behind the high school, and another man was arrested following suspicious activity near city hall.

Both city hall and the city hall annex building were briefly locked down.

Both the Mayor and the Chief told 22News they want to assure parents their kids are safe and that those responsible for the recent incidents have been arrested and will be held accountable.

The following is a joint statement from Mayor Alex Morse and Police Chief James Neiswanger: 

On Friday, October 13, it was discovered that Robert’s Field behind Holyoke High School had been vandalized. The police were notified and began an investigation. Later that day the police were called to City Hall by members of the Mayor’s staff due to the suspicious activity of an individual. Upon arrival, the police, out of an abundance of caution, ordered that city offices be locked down. Members of the police department searched both City Hall and the City Hall Annex, and, concluding that the buildings were safe, lifted the lockdown. Soon after, the police located the individual, Robert Barre, and arrested him on a number of charges. He is currently in custody and being held on $100,000 bond. While the investigation is ongoing, it appears that Holyoke Public School students or staff were not being targeted. Finally at this time the police have no indication that anyone else was involved other than the suspect arrested.

We understand that emotions are high right now in light of the attempted abduction of a student, and a list of students that was created after a high school assembly. We want to deliver a clear message to students, staff and parents that make up the HPS family: you are safe. The student who wrote the list was immediately identified and will be facing school and legal consequences. The individual accused of the attempted abduction was apprehended by the police and remains in custody.

The men and women of the Holyoke Police Department stand ready to respond to unfortunate events like these, and will always work to keep our students and staff safe. Please know that both of our offices are always open to discuss any concerns you or your family may have.

Related Coverage:

Holyoke mayor comments on high school assembly incident

A call for unity after controversial Holyoke High School assembly