CANAL WINCHESTER, Ohio (WCMH) – At least two school employees and another adult assisted nearly 20 police officers in apprehending four teenagers who were allegedly armed and involved in a fight at a Canal Winchester High School football game.
According to Madison Township police reports, four teenagers were arrested after a fight that broke out Friday during the Canal Winchester-Groveport Madison game on the away side of the stadium, just before 8 p.m.
A total of 18 officers were at the scene, including 17 who responded to the incident. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Groveport Police Department assisted Madison Township police.
Responding officers were told by school administrators that they brought out two male teenagers after a fight from inside the stadium and that they believed one had a gun.
One of the teens was on the ground and holding his feet together. Police found a Glock 9mm gun from his pants leg. There was a round in the chamber along with a fully loaded magazine.
Moments later another school administrator brought out a third male from the stadium and alerted police that he also may have a gun. An officer took a shoulder bag from the teen, who broke free and fled the scene.
The officer and a security guard tripped over each other, but a school vice principal and another adult citizen were able to grab the teen and hold him until he was handcuffed and placed in custody.
A Glock 9mm handgun was found in the shoulder bag. It also had a round in the chamber and a fully loaded magazine in the gun.
At that time the Groveport Madison principal told officers he heard a former student was also carrying a gun and had been with the three teenagers who were already in custody. The principal escorted 18-year-old Sharod Bowers, who was patted down and found to be carrying a .45 caliber Glock pistol in his waistband. It contained a round in the chamber, a fully loaded magazine and a switch to make it function like a fully automatic firearm.
“They have basically put a switch device on the rear of the gun that enables it to become fully automatic. Just a squeeze of the trigger and it will empty that magazine,” said Madison Township Police chief Gary York.
The two armed teenagers were taken to Franklin County juvenile jail. Bowers was taken to Franklin County Correction Center on Jackson Pike. In total, three guns were confiscated and all three were charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a deadly weapon in a school safety zone. A fourth teen, 17, was charged with menacing and disorderly conduct.
York said two out of the four suspects have had prior run-ins with the law.
One of the 17-year-olds was charged with receiving stolen property last August.
The 16-year-old was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle in January.
York said none of the suspects are current students at either of the schools but said some were former students at Groveport.
Bowers was issued a $150,000 bond in Franklin County Municipal Court on Monday. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29.
In a letter sent to parents, Canal Winchester Schools said in part, “At (Friday’s) football game, Madison Township police arrested three individuals in possession of guns, ensuring the safety of all involved and without any complications. … It is both unacceptable and alarming for anyone to bring weapons to a high school football game. … The events at tonight’s game are both scary and frustrating. Our students deserve to attend games with their friends and make memories without fearing for their safety. The Canal Winchester Local School District and Groveport Madison Local School District both condemn the actions of the few individuals who created this disturbance and showed incomprehensible disregard for the safety of our school communities.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies came to the stadium to ensure the game could safely finish. The game was completed and police made sure all attendees left the stadium immediately. Madison Township police said the department had eight officers assigned to security detail at the game.
The incident marks the second consecutive year arrests were made during a Canal Winchester-Groveport Madison football game.
In 2022 when the game was hosted in Groveport, 18-year-old James Keys from Columbus was arrested after he and a 15-year-old were accused of firing shots outside the stadium during the game. Keys posted bond, but he was arrested a second time after officers recovered four handguns at a property.
York said because of what happened last year the two districts and law enforcement have been meeting to talk about safety since July.
He said they even moved up the start time of the game to 6 p.m. to avoid a situation like this.