Cops: Man robs teachers in classrooms with hammer


Instead of giving a teacher an apple, one man allegedly stole a teacher's Apple after breaking in to Upper Darby High School yesterday afternoon and threatening her with a hammer - and police said it wasn't the first time the man attempted such a brazen theft.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Darlington James, 19, an Upper Darby resident who does not attend the high school, got in to the building through a back door yesterday during dismissal and went to the 32-year-old teacher's second-floor classroom around 3:20 p.m., where she was working alone behind a locked door.

James knocked on the door and the teacher let him in, asking how she could help him, police said. That's when James pushed the woman, pulled a claw hammer from his pocket and began swinging at her as swiped her Apple laptop computer, Chitwood said.

He took off running, with the teacher close behind, according to police. Two male teachers joined in the chase and a third individual called police.

Responding officers found James in the area of Naylor's Run Park. In his backpack they found the stolen computer, but no hammer, Chitwood said.

James is also believed to be behind a similar incident that occurred on Jan. 14 at Beverly Hills Middle School, police said. In that case, James allegedly approached another female teacher while she was alone in her room, but she fought him off and he was unsuccessful at stealing her computer.

James was charged with two counts of robbery, aggravated assault and related offenses.

Chitwood said James told police someone else told him how to get in to the schools, but they aren't buying his story. Police said they don't know how long James was roaming the halls before he preyed on the teachers.

"At dismissal time everyone lets their guard down," Chitwood said. "The brazenness of this guy, breaking in to a school and doing what he is doing is mindboggling .... It's crazy. That's what it is."

Police believe James is also responsible for the theft of another half dozen computers from area schools over the last month, though there were no teachers present during those thefts.

In a second incident involving Upper Darby schools yesterday, police responded to reports that a 13-year-old boy planned to bring a gun to Drexel Hill Middle School today and threatened to shoot the place up.

A student who overheard the threat reported it to her mother, who reported it to school officials, who then reported it to police, Chitwood said.

Officers went to the boy's house last night and conducted a consensual search. They did not find a gun but they did recover a steak knife from the boy's backpack, police said. The boy told police he was bringing it to school for protection because he had heard he was going to be jumped today, Chitwood said.

The disagreement between the boy and those who allegedly threatened him began when another boy allegedly kissed the 13-year-old's girlfriend, according to police.

"When you hear in this day and age that somebody's going to shoot up the school, it's a top priority," Chitwood said. "They sort of go to the top of the chart."

The 13-year-old was charged with terroristic threats and related offenses and is being housed at the county's juvenile detention center in Lima.