Gateway football player charged in alleged robbery
A Gateway High School senior and football player was arrested Monday on charges that he robbed two people at gunpoint in August.
Jaquan Thomas, 18, faces six felonies in connection with the Aug. 11 incident. He is being held at Allegheny County Jail on a $50,000 straight bond.
According to the victims — Matthew Gavaghan and Nolan Johngarlo — the two arranged to meet Thomas to sell him two pairs of shoes and a backpack.
Johngarlo told police Thomas invited them inside a Cambridge Square apartment in Monroeville to show his girlfriend the backpack, and that when Gavaghan entered, Thomas pulled a gun on him and made him hand over his wallet, a smart phone, a Rolex watch and a gun, totaling around $3,000. A second person was pointing a gun to his head, Gavaghan told police.
“Gavaghan stated that after he handed over his belongings the actor told him to run. Gavaghan stated that he believes he heard two gunshots while he was running away,” the criminal complaint said.
Gavaghan later flagged down a police officer on Mosside Boulevard, the criminal complaint said.
Johngarlo ran in the opposite direction and police located him outside the entrance of Monroeville Community Park off Tilbrook Road. The criminal complaint said Johngarlo ran to the park, hid in the woodline and called 911.
Johngarlo’s version of events matched Gavaghan’s, police said.
Johngarlo set up the meeting through social media, but he said he did not know Thomas personally. Both victims told police they knew Thomas was a Gateway High School senior and a football player.
The alleged incident occurred the night before Gateway started football camp.
“They become like sons to us; when bad things happen or they do bad things, we just support them like they’re our own kids,” Gateway football coach Don Holl said. “We love him. We don’t know what he did or what he allegedly did. If this is true, it’s really sad. He’s a good kid doing a lot of good things in school and on the field. Obviously, it’s devastating if he made that kind of mistake.”
Thomas was a starting wide receiver and defensive back for Gateway, one of the top teams in WPIAL Class 5A. The fifth-year senior had exhausted his athletic eligibility after last season but Gateway’s administration requested a hardship waiver that gave Thomas an additional year of football.
The WPIAL held an eligibility hearing for Thomas in July and granted his waiver. He caught a touchdown in Gateway’s season opener against Mt. Lebanon, a 46-20 victory Aug. 23.
Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole was not immediately available to comment.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .