Cops: “Potential Tragedy” Averted at Bonner & Prendergast

Five students were arrested Wednesday after a gun and drugs were found in the Catholic high school.


When a dozen or so Upper Darby police officers bounded into Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School on Wednesday morning, a handful of students knew they were officially screwed.

Four male students and one female student ended up in handcuffs after cops found a handgun, drugs and bullets during a search of the building — an eyebrow-raising episode from a school that usually doesn’t make headlines for police activity. “We very seldom get called there,” said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. “Obviously, they have problems like everyone else, but they must handle that stuff internally.”

So what the hell happened? 

Chitwood sketched out a story that began with a couple of Bonner and Prendie kids cutting class, and hanging out near a trolley stop not far from the Drexel Hill school. A male student allegedly sold drugs to two female students. And then, for some reason, things got tense.

The male student pulled out a handgun, Chitwood said, and allegedly threatened to shoot one of the girls in the foot. How does Upper Darby’s top cop know all of this? “There was another female student in the area and observed everything,” he said. “The three then headed back to the high school, and cut through the football field right in front of Bonner. She followed right behind them.”

When the witness got into school, she ran to the school’s principal and explained what she saw. The school called police, and the building was placed on lockdown. Chitwood said his department regularly runs through lockdown drills with local schools. But this time, the situation wasn’t hypothetical.

A police canine hit on two lockers. Cops found marijuana in both, and took into custody two males students who were assigned to the lockers. They identified and tracked down the male student who had allegedly brandished a gun earlier in the day. “We grabbed him,” Chitwood said. “He had marijuana on his person, but no gun.”

The cops were led to a fourth student who had several rounds of 9mm ammunition in his schoolbag, and the locker of one of the female students who had been at the trolley stop. “We look in her locker and find a fully-loaded 9mm,” Chitwood said.

One of the students had allegedly stolen the gun from a relative, Chitwood said. Four of the students were charged with weapons violations, he said.  “Stupidity reigns,” he sighed.

Chitwood praised the female student who followed her peers and alerted the principal to the situation. “I think she’s a hero. She helped avoid a potential tragedy,” he said. “You put drugs and guns and kids together, it don’t mix. Who knows what the hell they were going to do with that gun?”

When asked how the school will handle disciplining the five students, Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, pointed to a section of the student’s handbook which reads in part: “Weapons and replicas of weapons are forbidden on school property. Students who bring weapons to school will be dismissed …  Anyone found possessing, selling, consuming, or buying any kind of drugs or alcohol on school property, at a school related event or in the vicinity of the school may be placed in police custody and expelled.”

Follow @dgambacorta on Twitter.