Lawsuit: Hockey coach pointed gun at player during practice

January 4, 2019 / Hockey
A former New Jersey high school hockey player has filed a lawsuit alleging that his former coach pointed a gun at him during a 2017 team practice.

Photo: Mark Mauno

The head coach, Dave McKenna, resigned last spring after he was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. The incident was described as a prank, and McKenna would later plead guilty to the crime.

Now, Liam Johnson is suing McKenna, three assistants and the school district. Two of the assistants are accused of witnessing the incident and failing to immediately report it. A third volunteer assistant also is a New Jersey State Trooper, and it was his weapon that was used by McKenna. According to police reports, and as reported by, the trooper changed clothes in the coaches office, where he left his gun unsecured. Police say he did not witness the incident and didn’t learn about it until days later.


The lawsuit says that Johnson feared for his life when McKenna pointed the gun at him and he thought he would suffer a similar fate as his uncle, who was shot to death years ago, according to the lawsuit.

When interviewed by police, Johnson said he believed McKenna was playing a prank on him, according to a police report.

“This incident is further complicated by the fact that the other teachers who witnessed or otherwise knew about what happened did absolutely nothing,” said Silberman, referring to the fact that it took nearly two days for anyone from the school district to report the incident to the police.

The trooper no longer coaches with the team but was not charged. The two assistant coaches were punished by the district, according to, but continue to coach and teach at the school.

Johnson is asking for punitive damages and court costs, in addition to other unspecified damages. Among the charges against the defendants are assault and battery, negligence, conspiracy, and negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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