Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies say that the 19-year-old who brought a loaded gun onto Tecumseh Local Schools campus causing a brief lockdown told them he was carrying it for protection.
Chase Harris, of Springfield, was charged with several felonies including improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of deadly weapons in a school safety zone.
Not guilty pleas were entered for him in Clark County Municipal Court on Thursday, and his bond was set at $5,000. As a condition of his bond, he is not allowed to be on Tecumseh High School property while his case is pending.
His charges stem from an incident that caused Tecumseh Middle School and Tecumseh High School to temporarily go into a level one lockdown on Wednesday.
Tecumseh Local Schools Superintendent Paula Crew said the lockdown lasted about 10 minutes, and a message was sent out to parents.
“Essentially business as usual except all doors are locked, so no one can enter anywhere throughout the building from the exterior doors,” she explained about the lockdown.
The district’s resource officer, Deputy John Loney said he got a tip that a person was headed to the high school to pick up a student — possibly with a loaded gun and drugs in their car.
Loney and another deputy spotted the car in the parking lot of Tecumseh High School. The driver was 19-year-old Harris, who allowed deputies to search his car.
According to court documents, deputies found a .380 handgun in the center console, 10 rounds of ammunition in the gun’s magazine, a box of .30-30 ammunition and a chewing tobacco can that had a white powder inside.
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Loney said the gun was registered to one of Harris’ family members.
He said the teen was cooperative during the incident, and the school was only placed on a lockdown as a precaution while things were handled outside.
“He stated he was carrying the pistol for his own protection,” Loney said. “Once we had him in the back of the patrol car and told him what he was facing — and that you’re on school property and all that — he admitted he realized what he had done. It was starting to sink in. He knew he was in trouble.”
Crew and Loney said they are thankful the situation didn’t escalate and they attribute much of that to having a resource officer in place in the district so that response times are faster.
“It’s a vital position,” Loney said. “It’s needed. Being here on the school grounds — being able to respond just like that.”
As of Thursday evening, Harris was still listed as an inmate in the Clark County Jail.
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