Elon student arrested in class as part of drug sting

By Nick Ochsner

Elon student Taylor Zachary was arrested Thursday after Burlington Police officers searched his apartment for drugs.

Burlington Police and federal agents with the Department Enforcement Agency executed a search warrant on Zachary’s apartment at The Glenns located at 2434 W. Webb Avenue in Burlington.

Burlington Police found more than four pounds of marijuana and various drug paraphernalia.

A total of five people– including Zachary and Elon junior David Brenner– were charged. The other three were not Elon students.

Zachary was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and Brenner was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of marijuana.

Burlington Police worked with Town of Elon Police and Elon Campus Police to arrest Zachary after searching his apartment.

Two officers–one from the town and one from the campus–went to Lindner Hall where Zachary was in class with Assistant Professor Michael Matthews.

Captain Jeff Wood with the Burlington Police Department led the investigation.  Wood said he asked Campus and Town Police officers to pull Zachary out of class because of timing.

“We were in a position where we didn’t want to wait or couldn’t wait,” Wood said.

Wood said that when police officers asked Zachary to step in the hall to speak with them about their investigation he refused.  Officers then took Zachary into custody, Wood said.

Chuck Gantos, chief of Elon Campus Safety and Police said Zachary escalated the situation by not cooperating with the officers.

“It would’ve been much easier if he had just walked outside,” Gantos said.  “Easier for him and easier for the officers.”

Gantos said that it is unusual for his department to disrupt class to arrest students.

“We’ve done it one time other than this in four years… so it’s not common,” Gantos said.

Zachary’s in-class arrest has sparked discussion across campus.

Dean of Students Smith Jackson said that the university is not able to control when and where students are arrested.

“In terms of us being able to tell the police agency ‘you cannot come on our campus’ we cannot do that,” Jackson said.  “We would be interfering with that process.”

But Jackson thinks there are some situations where police may be out of line when interrupting class to talk with or arrest a student in relation to a criminal investigation.

“If they don’t have a warrant then it sounds like they would not…umm… sounds like there could be a choice there.”

Police did not have a warrant for Zachary’s arrest in this case.

Zachary declined to comment.

Stay with Phoenix14News as this story continues to develop.

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