Joshua Harvell, 21, of Albemarle, N.C., was spotted smoking a cigarette in his car at about 10:45 a.m. by a school administrator, said Ron Storey, director of public safety for the Cobb County School District.
The administrator alerted Sgt. David Rolfe, who approached the vehicle.
Rolfe questioned Harvell and found he was not a student at Kennesaw Mountain, then spotted a folding lock-blade in his pants pocket, according to the arrest warrant. That’s when he looked inside the vehicle.
Rolfe noticed, “in open view,” a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol sitting between the console and the passenger seat, the arrest warrant stated.
Rolfe immediately took Harvell into custody and had the vehicle impounded and searched. Police reported finding an Archangle 5.56 semi-automatic rifle with 355 rounds of ammunition, another 49 rounds for the pistol, and a 24-inch machete inside the trunk of the car.
Police reported that the pistol was loaded with 19 rounds in the magazine but did not say if the rifle in the trunk was loaded.
Parents not notified
Administrators were working on a draft letter to send out to parents Friday evening that would have notified them of the weapons arrest, but as of Tuesday it had not been sent out, said School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn. Nor had the school board been fully briefed about the incident.
Scamihorn said he was not sure why the letter was not sent to parents Friday but assumed it was because it wasn’t finished in time to send home with students.
“I believe they will send it out Monday when everyone gets back (from holiday break),” Scamihorn said.
Suspect had an alibi
Storey said Harvell has no history of violent crimes and had an alibi for why he was sitting in the school’s parking lot Friday morning.
“His brother is married to a student’s sister,” Storey said. “The story he gave is she was going home for the weekend to visit her sister in North Carolina, but his brother couldn’t make it and asked him to come down from North Carolina to get her from school.”
Rolfe is the school district’s canine officer and just happened to stop at Kennesaw Mountain High to let his dog out for some exercise Friday, Storey said on Tuesday.
“After talking to him (Harvell) he asked ‘are there any other weapons in the car?’ and he said, ‘Well, yes there is,’” Storey said. “But his story does check out that he was going to pick up this student. The only problem is he’s on the school property, in the middle of the student parking lot, with a weapon and another weapon in the trunk.”
Storey said the main entrance to the school sits about 200 yards away from where Harvell was parked.
Storey said the guns were not stolen but he could not say whether they had been legally purchased by Harvell.
“We checked and they came back as not stolen,” he said.
Storey said he asked Harvell Friday if he was employed.
“He told me he worked at Wal-Mart and had to work that night,” Storey said. “I told him, ‘I don’t think you’re going to make it to work on time, buddy.’”
“It raises an eyebrow, but as far as his story, it did check out.”
Storey praised the administrator who noticed the man smoking in his car.
“I do not know if it was the principal or the assistant principal who saw him, but whoever it was, was paying attention and doing what they should have been doing,” he said.
Storey said campus police transported Harvell to the Cobb County Jail in one of the school district’s new police cruisers. Harvell remains in the county jail without a bond.