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Canisius recruit gets bail on gun charges; school drops him

June 23, 2022 GMT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A New York state supreme court judge on Thursday set bail at $100,000 for a Canisius College basketball recruit arrested for having two handguns, a shotgun and numerous high-capacity magazines outside the school’s indoor athletic complex.

Shortly after Judge Debra Givens granted bail to Sarion McGee, Canisius athletic director Bill Maher told The Associated Press that McGee will not be admitted to the school. Maher cited the seriousness of the charges and noted that while McGee was recruited to play at Canisius, the admissions process was not complete.

Givens questioned why the 23-year-old McGee, who majored in criminal justice, either ignored or didn’t familiarize himself with state gun laws when he moved to Buffalo from his home in Wisconsin. She also ordered McGee not to leave Erie County.

“Mr. McGee, one thing is clear is that you are an extremely irresponsible gun owner,” Givens said. “You shouldn’t be in this situation, and yet you are.”

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McGee’s lawyer, Michael Seibert, welcomed the judge’s decision to grant bail and said he expects his client to be released within days.

Seibert declined to comment on Canisius’ decision not to admit McGee, saying he needed to consult with his client. In court, Seibert told Givens that Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon “still wants him on the team.”

McGee had been held without bail since he was arrested on June 12, a day after arriving in Buffalo. He faces 15 weapons-related charges, with sentences ranging from 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

A campus police officer was checking cars parked illegally in the Canisius athletics lot when he saw a high-capacity .22-caliber magazine in the passenger seat of McGee’s car, according to court documents. Soon after, McGee exited the building and upon approaching officers informed them he was carrying two loaded handguns and additional magazines in his fanny pack.

Police eventually found more loaded magazines stored in his glove box and a 12-gauge shotgun in the trunk.

Seibert said the guns and ammunition were purchased legally. He added McGee had just arrived in Buffalo and had all his possessions in his car because he had not been able to move into his assigned dorm room.

McGee’s arrest came about a month after a mass shooting in Buffalo, where a 19-year-old white man is alleged to have killed 10 Black people at a supermarket. The shooting occurred about a mile from the Canisius campus.

Seibert said McGee shouldn’t be considered a flight risk because his future is tied to playing basketball at Canisius. He added that McGee’s fiancée has landed a job at a local medical facility and starts on Monday.

Seibert also noted McGee had no criminal history and had been active in Boys & Girls Clubs in Wisconsin.

Maher defended the player’s character.

“The narrative that’s surrounding the situation is not reflective of our experience with the young man, or from others who our staff spoke to who have coached him,” Maher said. “We had Sarion and his mother on campus for a visit. And we felt comfortable continuing that process and having him becoming a member of our program.”

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McGee is from Milwaukee. He was transferring to Canisius of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after spending last year at Logan Community College in Illinois. The 6-foot-8 player spent the 2020-21 season at Grambling State, where he started 15 games.

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