Police: Lancaster teen had stolen gun at school

Markethian R. Watts
Markethian R. Watts

A 17-year-old student was detained on weapon charges Thursday morning after bringing a gun to an alternative school campus, according to a news release from the Lancaster Police Department.

Markethian Watts of Lancaster was charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds and possession of a stolen pistol, police said.

Authorities were told by school officials Thursday morning that a student at Eastside Academy on Barr Street may have a firearm. Officers located Watts, who cooperated and admitted he did have a gun. The gun was removed and Watts was taken into custody without incident, according to police.

The 9mm semi-automatic pistol was not loaded, but Watts had a loaded 28-round magazine in his possession, according to Capt. Scott Grant, a Lancaster police spokesman. A computerized check revealed the gun was stolen in 2012 out of Lancaster County.

“The suspect remained cooperative throughout the investigation,” Grant said. “There is nothing at this time that suggests the suspect had any intention of using the firearm on school grounds or anywhere else.”

Watts is a participant in YouthBuild, a nonprofit program that leases a building on the property from Lancaster County schools, according to Bryan Vaughn, director of school safety and transportation for the district. Two students at YouthBuild saw Watts with the gun and informed Vaughn, who was in the adult education building.

Police were called and responded within three minutes, Vaughn said. Lancaster County schools provide an armed officer at the campus only for adult education and the alternative school.

“We have no control, per se, over their students,” Vaughn said. “They are responsible for the supervision of their own students. Our district is always going to be concerned about an incident reported on our campuses.”