UPDATED: W&L students face drug-related felony charges

Student search conducted on campus after all other attempts to contact ‘exhausted’

Kieran McQuilkin

Thursday, 10:14 a.m. This story has been updated from its original version.

UPDATED: A third W&L student, Jesse Stone, ’17, was arrested for similar charges on Sept. 30, according to Rockbridge Circuit Court records.



At least three W&L students have been arrested on drug-related felony charges over the course of the last two weeks.

Garey Symington, ‘17, Perry Siehien, ‘16, and Jesse Stone, ’17, were arrested on charges for distribution of Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics, according to Rockbridge Circuit Court records.

Symington was arrested on Sept. 24; Siehien and Stone were arrested on Sept. 30.

Hearing dates in the Rockbridge County Courthouse for the three students are set for Oct. 20.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes drugs by schedules; Schedule I and II are defined as the most dangerous and include most recreational drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Siehien’s arrest occurred during a large-scale operation by the Rockbridge Regional Drug Task Force, which included the Lexington Police Department, the Buena Vista Police Department and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office Drug Enforcement Section. Stone was also arrested on that day, according to court documents.

“The operation stems from a series of investigations that began in early 2015 into the illegal use, distribution, possession and manufacturing of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana within Rockbridge County and the Cities of Lexington and Buena Vista,” the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

A total of 58 people were arrested on Sept. 30 in the Rockbridge area. Four others were arrested prior to that operation, bringing the total number arrested to 62 persons, as of Oct. 2.

The operation targeted 79 local residents with a total of 231 criminal charges. Some residents have not yet been located by law enforcement.

“We will remain diligent in our efforts to get drug dealers off of the streets so that we can provide safer communities for all of our citizens,” Lexington Police Chief Al Thomas said in the statement.

Siehien was arrested on one charge of conspiracy to distribute Schedule I/II narcotics and a second charge of selling Schedule I/II narcotics, which are both felony charges.

Symington was arrested on two charges of selling Schedule I/II narcotics and one charge of selling drugs near a school; all three are felony charges.

Stone was charged with three felonies: conspiracy to distribute Schedule I/II narcotics, selling Schedule I/II narcotics and selling drugs near a school. He received an additional misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

It is unclear whether Symington’s arrest was a part of the investigation leading to Wednesday’s series of arrests.

The task force searched W&L’s campus on the afternoon of Sept. 30 for one student, according to Public Safety Director Ethan Kipnes.

Several task force members were armed with assault weapons and wearing bulletproof vests, according to eyewitnesses. Kipnes said that the task force likely had already equipped the weapons and vests during home raids throughout the county earlier in the day.

The task force notified Kipnes of the situation Wednesday morning. Kipnes, who did not confirm which student the task force was searching for on campus, said Public Safety officials provided the task force with information about the student’s possible locations.

The officers searched the tennis pavilion and several classes in the science center.

“It got to the point where they had exhausted other attempts to contact the student,” Kipnes said. “They were hoping for a better way, but had to achieve their goal of connecting with the student…. In the time I’ve been here, we haven’t had a unified group of law enforcement agencies looking for a student in that way.”

The area’s state police spokesperson, Sergeant Rick Garletts, did not return several voicemails from The Phi.

All three students declined to comment.