Armed neighborhood watch member keeping an eye on Fort Wayne North Side High School students’ safety

Mark Cowan, who presented a card for the Bloomingdale Neighborhood Watch, wanted to keep an eye Friday afternoon on students at the school, 475 E. State Blvd. , to keep them safe. (Photo by Dan Vance of News-Sentinel.com)

A man armed with a handgun who’s standing outside North Side High School boundaries was keeping watch over students Friday, nine days after a mass shooting left 17 people dead at a Florida high school.

Mark Cowan stood Friday afternoon outside the school, 475 E. State Blvd., on Eade Avenue north of State Boulevard.

North Side administrators were aware of Cowan, who had been out there all day, said Krista Stockman, Fort Wayne Community Schools public information officer. Stockman wasn’t sure what, if anything, North Side students had been told about the man, who still was standing guard when school ended for the day at 4:10 p.m.

FWCS officials understand Cowan can be on public sidewalks and streets bordering the North Side High School campus, but not on sidewalks and drives on the campus, she said.

“We don’t think it adds to security at the building,” said Stockman, who noted FWCS already has a few Fort Wayne Police officers on duty in the building each school day.

The sight of a man outside the school with a weapon likely increases anxiety among students, she added.

Cowan, who has been a member of the Oath Keepers group, identified himself to a News-Sentinel.com reporter as a member of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association crime watch and patrol. Bloomingdale neighborhood is located south of State Boulevard and west of Clinton Street, about 1/2 mile from North Side High School.

Oath Keepers identifies itself as “a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police and first-responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'” it said on the group’s website, https://www.oathkeepers.org.

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