The Canal Winchester Times

Felony charges filed

Man allegedly brought loaded rifle into school zone


All four Canal Winchester schools were on lockdown for about a half-hour during mid-morning Nov. 14 after a 19-year-old Canal Winchester man allegedly brought a high-powered, loaded military rifle within the boundaries of a school zone.

The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office, which provides law enforcement services to Canal Winchester, charged Alex E. Gibbons, 24 Elizabeth St., with inducing panic and having weapons in a school zone, both fourth-degree felonies.

Authorities said he was on Elizabeth Street when he was arrested, in an area that adjoins the grounds of Canal Winchester High School and falls within the school zone.

Gibbons is being held in the Franklin County jail. According to court documents, he was arraigned on Nov. 15 and was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Franklin County Municipal Court Nov. 22, after the press deadline for ThisWeek Canal Winchester News.

Fairfield County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Marian Vault, commander of the Canal Winchester substation, told Canal Winchester City Council Nov. 18 Gibbons "borrowed a gun from a friend and said he wanted to exercise his right to openly carry a firearm, but he isn't allowed to do that on school property."

Vault said the actions of off-duty Madison Township police Sgt. Don Skinner allowed authorities to arrest Gibbons without incident. Skinner saw Gibbons with the rifle and notified deputies of the situation.

Madison Township Police Chief Michael Ratliff said Skinner, who was still in uniform, followed Gibbons until deputies arrived.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said he ordered a non-emergency lockdown for Canal Winchester High School on Washington Street, Canal Winchester Middle School on Parkview Drive, and Winchester Trail and Indian Trail elementary schools, both on Gender Road.