Herald Staff Writer

VERNON — Two days after a former Vernon High School student was arrested and charged with attacking noted Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel, school officials were stunned to think the quiet, courteous teen they once knew could have committed such a crime.

Eric Hunt, 22, of Lake Wallkill Road, was arrested Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Clinic in Somerset County, Montgomery Police said. Authorities in San Francisco had issued a warrant for Hunt’s arrest after they connected him to the Feb. 1 attack on Wiesel at the city’s Argent Hotel.

Hunt is lodged without bail in the Somerset County Jail, where he awaits extradition to San Francisco. The incident has drawn worldwide interest and underscores the disquieting concept of Holocaust denial, but some Sussex County residents were left in bewilderment.

“He was a very easy-going kid. He always had a smile on his face,” boys tennis coach Doug Miller said of Hunt.

Hunt played varsity tennis at the high school for at least two years, earning All-SCIL Honorable Mention in 2001 and 2002. Miller said he first learned of Hunt’s arrest in a phone call from a reporter this weekend.

“My first impression was that it was something positive, because he was that kind of student,” Miller said. “I was completely shocked.”

Miller described Hunt as a “normal, quiet kid,” and said political issues were not discussed a-round the team.

Over the past 10 years, the high school has developed numerous special programs “not only dealing with the Holocaust, but tolerance issues in general,” Superintendent Anthony Macerino said.

“Who knows how these things happen?” he said of the alleged incident.