Pittsburgh school security guard arrested for assaulting student

A security guard at a Pittsburgh school faces a preliminary hearing in April after he was charged with assaulting a 12-year-old student.

Robert Elser, 52, of Brookline, a security guard at Pittsburgh Arlington PreK-8, was charged March 9 by Pittsburgh police with simple assault.

According to court documents, the incident occurred at the school Jan. 31 when the student appeared to be choking and ran through a doorway, where he was followed by Mr. Elser. Investigators said Mr. Elser can be seen in surveillance video “grabbing the male [student] and forcibly push[ing] him through the doorway back into the hallway where there is a concrete pillar of a wall,” a criminal complaint said.

The student’s mother told investigators that her son had a history of concussions and said he complained of headaches after hitting his head on the concrete pillar, according to the complaint.

Mr. Elser’s attorney, Phil DiLucente, said he was “confused” about why his client was charged because he “engaged the student properly.” He said the encounter occurred because the student was in an area of the school where he was not allowed to be.

“My client simply engaged him for conduct that wasn’t appropriate,” Mr. DiLucente said. “Instead he becomes charged with a crime when he was simply doing his job.”

A Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman said Mr. Elser was placed on paid administrative leave. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 26.