Monessen football players charged with drugs, weapons found in lockers
Two semi-automatic guns and drugs were found in lockers belonging to three Monessen High School football players during a Thursday evening practice, police said.
The three teenagers — ages 15, 16 and 17 — were arrested by city police after coaches conducted an apparent random sweep of the players' lockers at the high school football stadium, said city police Chief Mark Gibson.
“They didn't tell me what made them suspicious,” Gibson said.
The teens' names were not released. They were being held in the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center in Hempfield.
Monessen played a football game against Serra Catholic on Friday night. Earlier in the day, head coach Andy Pacek said he was upset by the arrests.
“A heartbroken father. That would be a good description of how I feel,” Pacek said. “As a team, we're going to be fine, though.”
The team practiced at Monessen's stadium on Thursday evening, he said.
Police arrived there about 8 p.m., Gibson said. He said he has seen problems with teens in the community “but not to this extent.”
“It's very discouraging and disappointing that they would bring any of this onto school property,” he said.
Gibson said Pacek was upset after the items were discovered.
“Andy was very disheartened,” Gibson said of the coach. “Those players on that team are like his own children. But his job is to protect those players. They have to follow the school rules. You can't bring guns or drugs to school or on school property.”
Schools Superintendent Linda Marcolini said in a prepared statement that the district is “very distraught over the current alleged situation.”
“Each and every day, all students go through metal detectors, and vigilance is taken in searching personal belongings,” she said.
The district is cooperating with investigators, Marcolini said.
Gibson laid out the charges for each student:
• The 15-year-old is accused of drug possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
• The 16-year-old is charged with possession of a weapon on school property and possession of a firearm by a minor.
• The 17-year-old is accused of drug possession, possession of a firearm by a minor, possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number and possession of a weapon on school property.
Gibson described the guns as 9mm and .22-caliber semi-automatic weapons.
Reporter Jeremey Sellew contributed to this story. Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.