Youth charged with having weapons at school

First Posted: 4/22/2009

A youth previously banned from Mount Airy High School has been accused of bringing 10 knives onto the campus, according to city police.
Charges of possessing weapons on school grounds and second-degree trespassing were issued against Jason Lee Chandler, 18, of 260 Northeast Pine St., after an incident Tuesday. Both violations are misdemeanors.
Chandler, who does not attend Mount Airy High School and apparently never has, was seen by a student there about 9:30 a.m. driving a white Ford Explorer.
The student reported Chandlers presence to the principal, which led to involvement by School Resource Officer Stacy Inman. The officer was aware that Chandler had been prohibited from coming onto the MAHS grounds by the school administration.
Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent of city schools, said Wednesday that Chandler had been seen on campus before and told not to return, basically because he had no business at MAHS. Hes not a student. He had no reason to be there, Hartness said of school officials past dealings with the youth.
Im not aware of an incident, the superintendent said of Chandlers earlier presence at the school.
After being spotted there Tuesday, the youth drove away. He immediately left campus when it was known he was there, said Lt. Jim Armbrister of the city police Community Services Division, who assisted Inman with the case.
However, the resource officer followed Chandler and stopped the Ford Explorer for further investigation. Upon receiving consent to search the vehicle, the knives were located.
An inventory showed that the 10 weapons in Chandlers possession included a 4-inch assault blade, several folding-blade knives, a double-bladed knife and others.
His explanation was that he collected knives, Armbrister said.
He stressed that there is no evidence the youth meant to cause any harm at the school, and authorities do not believe students or campus employees were directly endangered by the incident.
Yet Armbrister said whether a person intends harm or not, the presence of weapons on school grounds is a serious issue in itself because of their potential to cause injury if some kind of altercation or other situation erupted.
Schools are not the environment to have weapons or drugs, Armbrister said. Were trying to keep the campus safe. He added that having a school resource officer on hand to readily respond to such incidents can pay dividends when they occur.
The city superintendent, meanwhile, applauded the student who spotted the suspicious vehicle as well as the handling of the matter by the principal and SRO.
Our students and staff are aware of who is and who isnt supposed to be on campus, Hartness said. Im proud of our students for being aware of their surroundings.
Said Armbrister, The bottom line was, they worked together to help keep the campus safe.
Chandler is scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on the weapons and trespassing violations on June 10.

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