A teacher was found dead of an apparent suicide Friday night at Pompton Lakes High School.
Police went to check on a school employee around 9:04 p.m. on Friday, according to a statement by Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Pompton Lakes Police Chief Derek Clark.
While searching the building, officers discovered the body of Patrick Moccia, 47, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Moccia is survived by his wife, two children and two stepchildren, according to Superintendent Paul Amoroso in a letter to the school community.
“We ask that you keep Mr. Moccia and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Amoroso.
Moccia was hired by the school district as a woodshop teacher at Pompton Lakes High School in September. The high school’s former woodshop teacher, Dennis DeCarlo, died due to COVID-19 complications in May. Moccia taught courses in form, function and design, said Amoroso.
Moccia was listed on the school’s website as an adviser for the school’s fall drama play.
“My heart goes out to the family of Patrick Moccia, please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time,” Councilwoman Jennifer Polidori wrote on Facebook. “This is a sad and tragic loss for our community.”
An autopsy will be conducted by the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office at a later date and an investigation is active and ongoing, according to Valdes and Clark.
It’s unknown if anyone else was in the building at the time. According to the district’s hybrid learning schedule, in-person learning at the high school ends at 11:30 a.m. and virtual instruction learning takes place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The district will be providing onsite counseling support for students on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school’s media center, which is located at 44 Lakeside Ave. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced and students must wear face coverings, said Amoroso.
The district will also provide ongoing in-person and virtual counseling to students.
Police are asking anyone with additional information to contact the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office’s tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Pompton Lakes Police Department at 973-835-0400.