By Linda Cicoira — A substitute teacher accused last week of having firearms at Nandua High School, which is a felony, told authorities “he did not realize” that guns could not be kept in his car while on the premises.
Phillip Gordon Stewart, 63, was initially thought to live in Locustville, but an updated warrant shows his address on Nock’s Landing Road in Atlantic.
He was arrested and charged March 27 with “possessing a firearm designed or intended to expel a projectile by action of an explosion of a combustible material upon the property of a public or religious elementary middle or high school, or upon that portion of a property open to the public and then exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities were taking place.”
Deputy Jessica Young, of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office, who is the officer assigned to the school, investigated.
According to court records, Stewart said, “He put the firearms in (his) car for safekeeping from his ex. He did not realize he could not bring on school property.” He was held in Accomack Jail for about two days without bond due “safety concerns” and “presumption” — a rule of law that allows a court to assume a fact is true until it is rebutted by the greater weight of the evidence against it.
“Def(endant) polite and cooperative during (a) bail hearing,” the record stated.
Stewart was released on a $2,500 secured bond March 29 on the condition that he “avoid all contact with Debbie Bogardus” and “Do not travel on Burton Shore Road unless civil issues are resolved and (the) defendant receives a deed or Ms. Bogardus’ one-half interest.”
No civil suits have been filed by either party, according to Accomack district and circuit court records. The relationship between Stewart and Bodargus was unclear from the file.
The police were following a tip when they found the firearms in Stewart’s vehicle, said Major Shane Childress, of ACSO. Records also state that attorney Paul Watson, of Eastville, was retained to defend Stewart.