AURELIAN SPRINGS — Students fighting in a high school parking lot led authorities from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office to take five youths into custody and charge one with assault, and led to the forfeit of a football game at KIPP Gaston College Prep.
Friday afternoon, according to Halifax County Schools Public Relations Coordinator Keith Hoggard, two cars rolled up to Northwest Halifax High School, the sheriff’s office said one was a Crown Victoria, and parked behind the school’s 1000 building. Hoggard said school assistant principal Dennis Taylor and school resource officer Daniel Jones went out to investigate the cars, which Hoggard said were filled with young men.
Those in the cars told Taylor and Jones they were there to pick up a cousin, and the school officials told them they had to check in at the office to pick up any students. One of the cars, Hoggard said, left the school, but the other circled to the teacher’s parking lot and attempted to conceal itself behind a larger car.
“The young men got out and got on campus,” Hoggard said.
“And they did assault one other student. It does appear that student was singled out.”
Hoggard said when some of the school staff approached the young men, they tried to run back to their car. Meanwhile, Lt. George Evans, of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, was responding to the fight.
“I observed one of the guys, Antwan Cooper, throw a guy on the ground and then he ran toward the opposite end of campus,” Evans said.
“We ran back there and were able to get him stopped before he got back in the car.”
Evans arrested Cooper, 17, and Jones arrested four others, according to Evans. Cooper, a player on the KIPP Gaston College Prep football team, was charged with assault and trespassing.
Four others, whose names have not been released, were charged with trespassing. He was booked and released from the Halifax County Detention Center at 6:35 p.m. Friday.
Ricky Riddick, head coach of the KIPP football team, confirmed he had 10 of his players involved in the altercation, but he does not know the motivation behind it.
“All I know is the kids left school and went over to Northwest Halifax. The Northwest Halifax coach called me and told me there was a fight. The administration is dealing with the kids.”
Riddick was forced to forfeit Friday’s football game against Central Virginia Disciples out of Richmond, Va. Riddick said the season may have to be re-evaluated, depending on what happens to the students involved.
“The only thing we can do now is regroup. We won’t know what we’ve lost until the discipline is handed out by the administration. There will be some kids we’ll lose because they were involved.”
From Halifax Schools’ perspective, Hoggard said he’s pleased things didn’t end up worse, and he credits Taylor, Jones and Evans for keeping the melee from becoming a tragedy.
“We see tragedies on TV when people come onto campuses when they’re not supposed to be there,” Hoggard said.
“We take the security of our students very seriously, and I compliment the sheriff’s department and Mr. Taylor for their prompt action. Something like that could have turned into a tragedy very quickly and we’re very happy with the response.”
The victim, whose name was not released, was not seriously hurt, according to Hoggard.