DARBY — The man accused of bringing a loaded firearm into a Darby school Friday is now in jail.
Nazher Sabree, 21, of Philadelphia, was remanded to Delaware County’s George W. Hill Correctional Facility for failing to post $500,000 cash bail after his preliminary arraignment Saturday morning before Magisterial Judge Keith Williams II for allegedly bringing the weapon into Park Lane Elementary School during an unannounced visit to the building.
Sabree is charged with felony counts of prohibited possession of a firearm, firearm not to be carried without a license, receiving stolen property, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of making terroristic threats causing serious public inconvenience. He was also charged with misdemeanor offenses of crime committed with a firearm, defiant trespassing on school grounds, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime and possession of a weapon on school property.
A summary citation of harassment was also included in the list of charges.
Court records show Sabree has not retained an attorney, but an application was provided for appointment of a public defender.
The Darby Police Department arrested Sabree, reportedly a former student at the school, Friday afternoon after initiating what was perceived as an immediate risk to the school of approximately 400 students in grades kindergarten through sixth.
In a statement released by the district late Friday night, Sabree requested entrance into the building at around noon and was buzzed in by an employee seated at the front desk at that time. Principal Dr. Dawnee Watson-Bouie was notified that Sabree, “was not behaving in a normal fashion” and called down to the front office to evaluate the situation. Sabree asked the principal if anyone had brought in a bag he was looking for and she said she would make a call to building staff to inquire about said bag. Sabree was then escorted to the lobby area beyond the secure doors where he could not regain access to the rest of the building.
“After Dr. Watson-Bouie escorted the young man out of the main office, she called for the School Security Officer,” reads the district’s statement. “The Security Officer and Dr. Watson-Bouie walked the building to make sure everything was secure. When they reached the back doors, they observed the young man in the baseball field behind the school and called 9-1-1.”
Police reported to the back of the building where Sabree was still at the baseball field when the police actively pursued him, reportedly observing him with a loaded gun.
“Upon notification of a weapon, Dr. Watson-Bouie put the building into a lockdown,” said the statement. “A letter was sent home to parents stating that the building was in a lockdown due to a suspicious person in and around the building.”
Police eventually arrested Sabree in the field and reportedly found drugs on his person. No drug charges have been filed in the case.
Before entering the building, a school security officer witnessed Sabree walking around the school picking up bags and conversing with a Verizon technician at their work van believing “the young man was one of the Verizon workers.”
No one at the school was injured as the events unfolded.
Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe at a press conference Friday immediately called for the firing of Principal Watson-Bouie for a lack of immediate call for emergency help by law enforcement by not pressing the school's panic button when Sabree was in the building.
The school district said there was no evidence at the time Sabree was in the building that he was an armed intruder and that was why the panic button was not utilized.
“At no time is there any evidence of a gun or signs of violence evident to staff or students in the video surveillance,” read a part of the statement.
As Smythe condemned the principal’s alleged inaction to press the panic button in this security incident, the district stood behind Watson-Bouie’s actions.
“We are eternally grateful that Dr. Watson-Bouie handled the situation in a professional and appropriate fashion, and escorted the young man outside of the building and away from our students and staff,” read the statement, which went on to express gratitude in the police officers who safely apprehended Sabree.”
Panic buttons were installed in every basic primary and secondary education institution in the county in June 2013 following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Dec. 2012. This silent alarm activated by the building administrator, or other designee, sends an immediate call to the county’s emergency call center that there is a dangerous intruder or potential threat to the building staff and students. This was an initiative by Delaware County Council supported by a $188,000 grant from the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Task Force.
There is no policy adopted by the William Penn Board of School Directors that designates use of the panic button within their 11 school buildings, but Policy 907 (school visitors) states in part that, “A school employee shall immediately report to the Principal or designee any authorized visitor and/or any visitor not behaving in a manner consistent with this policy.” This was action was reportedly followed Friday afternoon at the school by the attending main office personnel.
District administrators will continue to investigate the incident and plan for “possible additional safeguards and procedures for admittance into school buildings.”
An affidavit or incident report for the incident has not yet been made available by Darby Police Department.
Sabree is scheduled for a preliminary hearing before Magisterial Judge Leonard Tenaglia on Jan. 16 at 8 a.m.
Sabree also has a trial date set in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 4 for misdemeanor charges of simple assault and harassment- subject other to physical contact for a Sept. 24, 2018 incident in Newtown Township. He was also convicted in Philadelphia Municipal Court for separate incidents in October and December 2016 and sentenced to no more than 12 months of probation on misdemeanor charges of theft by unlawful taking in both cases, and receiving stolen property.