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AC student held on gun, drug charges

February 11, 2011

Aaron Ellis

    Adams County Prosecutor Chris Harvey has released a report filed in Adams Circuit Court in the case of Aaron C. Ellis of rural Decatur, a senior at Adams Central High School who was arrested on Wednesday by the Adams County Sheriff's Department for possession of guns and cocaine on school property.
    Harvey brought four charges against Ellis: possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and two counts of possession of a firearm on school property. The weapons allegedly are a .22-caliber handgun and a .38-caliber handgun.
    Ellis, 18, was arraigned on Thursday afternoon by Judge Frederick A. Schurger, who set his bond at $50,000 and also set a pre-trial hearing for April 21 and a jury trial for May 27. Schurger said Ellis qualifies to be represented by the county public defender's office if his family cannot hire a lawyer for him.
    The probable cause affidavit signed by Deputy Sheriff Charlie Cook, a resource officer at the school, and filed in circuit court says ACHS Principal Sean McConnell reported that he had been informed by a parent on Tuesday evening that Ellis was bringing a gun to school and showing it to other students.
    McConnell also said that he had been told Ellis was saying he was "not afraid to use the gun" and was doing and/or selling drugs at AC.
    The .22-caliber gun allegedly was kept in a rear pocket of Ellis' pants.
    Ellis was taken from class on Wednesday by McConnell and Cook and was asked about his alleged comments regarding guns and drugs at school.
    According to the affidavit, Ellis said he had the gun in a rear pants pocket and after reportedly turning it over to the principal and the deputy, it was found to be loaded. Ellis did so without resistance and there was no incident.
    Ellis' car was searched and the loaded .38-caliber gun was found, plus a mirror with a white powdery substance on it as well as some green, leafy material. Preliminary tests at the scene allegedly showed the powder to be cocaine and the leafy material to be marijuana, according to the court document.
    The document states that Ellis claimed the white powder came from crushing painkiller tablets.
    Adams Central Superintendent Mike Pettibone said Ellis was a member of the school band and participated in community activities. The student had very limited or any discipline referrals, Pettibone continued, and the school is not aware that any actions were planned by Ellis.   
    "One of the school's major roles is provide a safe learning environment," Pettibone said. "The school personnel do their best on a daily basis for this to occur.  Yet, the students and families also have a responsibility in the quest in creating the safe environment and this was demonstrated by the student relaying information to the parent and the parent to the school administration.  
    "Adams Central feels fortunate to be located in Adams County, where the families and communities care and trust the school corporations and have the same commitment to the student's welfare," the superintendent continued.
    He noted that the school staff met on Wednesday afternoon and the school administration shared the information concerning the arrest.  
    "Two thoughts prevailed," Pettibone said. "The first was a prayer of thanks that no one was injured or threatened.  Secondly, the school has concern and compassion for the young man and his family."

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