Friday, April 09, 1999

Student with gun bound to grand jury




BY DAVID ECK
Enquirer Contributor

        LEBANON — A grand jury will hear the case of a Lebanon High School senior accused of having a loaded gun in his car on school property in February.

        Andrew Szymanski, 18, faces two felony charges of possession of firearms after a loaded .22-caliber rifle and an unloaded air pellet pistol were found in the trunk of his car in February. He also was charged with one count of illegal transportation of firearms, a misdemeanor.

        He remains free on a $2,500 bond. Jay Revelson, Mr. Szymanski's attorney, would not comment after Judge James Ruppert's decision.

        During an hour-long preliminary hearing in Lebanon Municipal Court, two school officials and a Lebanon police officer said that the guns were found during a school-initiated search of the car.

        Cheryl Thompson, Lebanon High assistant principal, testified that she had been told that Mr. Szymanski might have a loaded gun in the car, but she said he denied it.

        Though suspended from school in January for allegedly writing a threatening note on an English test, Mr. Szymanski had special permission to be at the school Feb. 17 to meet with a school psychologist.

        Athletic Director David Brausch testified that he escorted Mrs. Thompson to the parking lot to search the car, and watched as the trunk was opened.

        “He did not give me any trouble at all,” Mr. Brausch said. “As soon as we saw the guns, he said they were for something after school.”

        Mr. Szymanski and his par ents contend that he was going to a local target range after leaving the school that day, and that having the guns in the car was simply a mistake.

        It is against school policy to have weapons on school grounds.

        “It was an innocent mistake, and he's paying severely,” said Pam Szymanski, Andrew's mother. “He's trying to go on with his life as much as possible.”

        Andrew's father, David, said the allegations have been difficult on the family. “Our concern is for the truth so that our son (isn't) tagged with a felony for the rest of his life,” he said.

       



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