SMITHFIELD TWP, Pa. (WETM) – An Athens Area School District teacher has been charged with recklessly endangering four children after police said they fired guns near each other and pointed pistols at each other several times.
Jacob Lezak, 42, from Smithfield Township and who teaches Physical Education at Athens Area High School, was charged by Pennsylvania State Police on April 4 for an incident that happened over a month ago. According to the criminal complaint, last month two of the children came into PSP Towanda Barracks with their mother to report that on February 27, four kids were at Lezak’s house when one allegedly fired a rifle out the window in the direction of the other three children in the woods. The one who fired the gun allegedly said “catch this” when he shot the rifle.
The criminal complaint said that the other children heard the shots, got out of the way and went back inside to allegedly find rifles on a pool table. After one of the kids shot a rifle into the woods again, the affidavit said someone else picked up an unsecured .22 pistol and asked if it would shoot, to which another one of the children said they shouldn’t be playing with the gun.
One of the children then went outside, allegedly shot the pistol and loaded another round into it so another one of the kids could also shoot it. When this child pulled the trigger, the gun reportedly did not go off. The criminal complaint said that the same child then pointed the pistol at another one of the children and said, “How about I shoot you?”
Lezak was later interviewed by State Police and told them that during the day of the shootings, “he was down at the orchard pruning apple trees,” leaving the children unsupervised, according to the affidavit. He reportedly admitted that the .22 pistol was left unsecured in the mudroom of the house after being used for target practice. He also said there were at least two pellet guns in his home.
Lezak was charged with four counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, a 2nd-degree Misdemeanor for “allowing them to have access to loaded firearms and allowing them to be fired without adult supervision”, the criminal complaint said. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 11.
The Athens Area School District told 18 News that it is unable to comment on personnel issues. 18 News has contacted the school district’s solicitor for comment and is waiting to hear back.