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Ringgold grad takes gun to school

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Sean Ashley Begandy Jr.

A Ringgold High School graduate dressed in drag and toting a gun caused a stir Wednesday morning at his alma mater.

Sean Ashley Begandy Jr., 18, of Monongahela, allegedly tried to enter the high school with a pellet gun tucked in the front of his shirt around 7:30 a.m. – before being detained by school security, Carroll Township police said.

Begandy was dressed as a woman, police said.

Police said Begandy first snuck onto a school bus and rode to the high school campus.

He allegedly pulled out a black pistol as he approached school security officer Colleen Spahr at the entrance.

Police said Begandy surrendered the weapon to Spahr and was quickly taken to the security office.

“The school district has taken steps in the past year to bolster security, and I feel the measures they have in place paid off,” Carroll Township police Chief Paul Brand said. “Once he was met by security personnel, he relinquished the weapon and was very cooperative.”

The gun ended up being an Airsoft gun used to shoot plastic pellets, Brand said.

While not considered a deadly weapon, the BB-type gun can cause injury, Brand said.

The gun was not loaded, Brand said.

“More importantly, it replicates a real gun very closely – almost to the detail,” Brand said. “The only difference is (air guns) generally have an orange tip on the end of the barrel, which his did.”

Brand described Begandy as wearing a “costume.”

“Sweat pants, a shirt tied at the waist, he appeared to be wearing makeup like a woman would wear and had hoop earrings and other jewelry,” Brand said.

“School officials indicated (Begandy) was the kind of kid who sought attention. Well, he got our attention.”

Following his arrest, Begandy allegedly told Brand and Carroll Township officer Stephen Kenyon that he boarded the bus at the intersection of Fourth and Union streets and went to the high school to see old friends.

Begandy told police he was planning to go with friends to Philadelphia later in the day to shoot the pistol.

“His only explanation was he was coming to the school to say hello to some former teachers and students that he knew, and he was going to shoot with them later,” Brand said.

Brand said district officials questioned the bus driver, who indicated Begandy blended in with the nearly three dozen students at the stop.

“It's a unique stop that fills up a whole bus, so out of any of the stops you could blend in – considering how he was dressed – that was the stop,” Brand said. “He's young, he's 18, and appears to be like a student.”

Begandy allegedly told officers no one gave him permission to ride the bus, and he never intended to cause harm with the pistol.

Begandy was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school property and unauthorized school bus entry. He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson of Monongahela and sent to the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $10,000 straight cash bond.

Begandy's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7 before Wilson.

“I believe the magistrate is sending a strong message that you don't bring any type of weapon onto school grounds and, as an adult, sneak onto a school bus,” Brand said.

“That's going to be treated very seriously and, obviously, we and school officials treated it very seriously.”