Police chief concerned about increased incidents involving students at vocational school

Hiram G. Andrews Center

Three incidents and seven arrests involving students at Hiram G. Andrews Center in a two-week span has the chief of the Upper Yoder Police Department sounding the alarm.

"I am beginning to get concerned," said Donald Hess, Upper Yoder Township Police Chief.

It started January 31st when the chief says a search of a dorm room over suspected drugs led to a different discovery. Officers found a loaded gun in the dorm room of Charles Bracken Jr. which they determined belonged to Mark Sedelmeier.

"We had a person with a loaded weapon and quite a bit of ammunition," Hess said. "Multiple speed loaders (were found)."

Both students were charged with having a weapon on school property. Bracken faces additional drug charges.

Days later, police said four students from the center caused nearly $9,000 in damage to the vacant former Westmont Hilltop Elementary School next door.

"They broke multiple windows which were expensive, smashed some computer equipment and some televisions," Hess said. "The offenders deployed every fire extinguisher that was in that building."

Police were also called Thursday to help with Zackary Guiser, who staff said was out of control and violent. One of his officers and a Hiram G. Andrews staffer were injured in a scuffle, according to Guiser's arrest affidavit.

"We have always worked with the staff and security force there and the administration there at the HGA Center and we will continue to do so," Hess said. "That is one thing I will commend them on is they have done a good job of reporting potential incidents and concerns"

Still, his office has been getting lots of calls from community members worried if these are not just isolated incidents. Hess said he's willing to meet with the center to make sure the changing course doesn't continue.

"Unfortunately we have had for whatever reason we have had a spike in incidents," Hess said. "I would be more than willing to assist them if they would involve us in that process"

The Department of Labor & Industry runs the school. Lindsay Bracale, Deputy Communications Director, gave us the following statement about the events of the past few weeks.

The safety of our students, staff and our neighbors in the community is always a top priority. We have protocols in place to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our staff and students. It is unfortunate that we have experienced recent violations of the school’s Student Code of Conduct. The school staff followed protocols in each of those instances and local authorities were immediately notified. We are grateful for the quick response of the Upper Yoder Township Police Department. Since these incidents are now part of active investigations, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.

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