PITTSBURGH (AP) — A scare over a homeless man allegedly spotted carrying a rifle near a school in western Pennsylvania ended when the suspect surrendered to the city's mayor, who knew the man, the mayor said.
The man was seen walking near the Aliquippa Junior-Senior High School late Monday morning, leading to a lockdown of that school and an elementary school, the school superintendent said.
Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker said he had a police officer drive him to the school when he heard the report, then drop him off elsewhere in town once it was clear the suspect had left the school area and headed across town.
Walker told The Associated Press that after spotting the man go between some houses, he chased the suspect.
"I said, 'Please come here. Come now, please.' And he walked right toward me and hugged me. He looked scared like he was a kid," the mayor said.
According to the mayor, the suspect had dropped the weapon in the woods before their encounter. He said it had a bayonet at the end.
Police in Aliquippa, a city about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, did not return calls for comment, but the mayor confirmed the suspect's identify.
Online court records show Quantai Raines, 18, and identified as being homeless, was jailed after his arraignment Monday on charges of possessing a weapon on school property, possessing an instrument of crime, reckless endangerment and fleeing to avoid apprehension. Court records did not list an attorney for Raines who could comment on the charges. He faces a preliminary hearing April 23.
Walker, who is running for re-election at the end of his first four-year term, said he got involved in politics because his sister was fatally shot. Aliquippa, like many poorer Pittsburgh suburbs, has had to cope with drug trafficking and gun violence.
Walker's sister was the victim of a murder-suicide on Sept. 5, 2009.
"I just thank God that he put me in this position because this whole thing could have ended differently," the mayor said.
School Superintendent David Wytiaz said no one was harmed, and the suspect was not a student in the district.