Man charged with forcing friends to aid ransacking Bel Air school

A 25-year-old man from Aberdeen was charged last week with ransacking the Arrow Center for Education south of Bel Air and trying to get two friends to help him, at gunpoint.

Justin Allan James was ordered held on $75,000 bail at a Monday bail review after he was arrested Dec. 9 in connection with the incident in mid-November.

James allegedly fled to Felton, Del., after the Nov. 19 incident, in which up to $50,000 worth of damage was reported in the form of shattered windows and ransacked classrooms, offices and a trailer, according to the statement of charges.

James, who formerly lived on Franklin Street in Aberdeen, according to court records, approached two friends on Nov. 16, displayed a handgun and forced them to help them break into the school in an initial attempt to steal fundraiser money, according to the statement of charges.

According to its website, "The Arrow Center for Education provides special education services to children in grades 6 through 12, whom have demonstrated difficulty with school adjustment and performance in mainstream settings."

The damage at the school included three shattered classroom windows, paperwork scattered throughout the building, desks flipped over, blue paint splashed on the walls and the word "Pedophile" written inside the principal's office door.

A front window was shattered and tables were thrown around a trailer that contains the school's cafeteria. Change and items like a Wii gaming system and personal items in classrooms were also stolen.

James and his two friends allegedly went to Walmart after the incident to use the CoinStar machine to exchange the money they stole.

He has been charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of first-degree assault, use of a firearm in a felony violent crime, three counts of second-degree burglary, three counts of fourth-degree burglary, vandalism and theft.

James is single and lives in Delaware with his parents but lived in Maryland for most of his life, public defender Sara Klemm told retired District Court Judge Lawrence Lanahan at Monday's bail review in Bel Air.

He has a GED and is supported by disability payments related to mental health issues, Klemm said.

Assistant state's attorney Trenna Manners, however, noted James was previously charged with two counts of rape and has convictions for second-degree assault and vandalism.

As of Tuesday afternoon, James remained in jail at the Harford County Detention Center.

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