The Northampton County High School in Gaston was placed on lockdown Friday due to a note indicating that students brought weapons on campus.
The Herald received a tip about a rumor that students brought guns with the intention of shooting up the school. The source said they heard the information from a friend who picked their child up from school and told her what happened.
Sheriff Jack Smith on Tuesday said the school did go into lockdown on Friday after a deputy found a note that read a kid or two may have had a weapon on the campus. Smith said several agencies were involved, and K-9s were used to search the area where there was no evidence of a weapon.
He added no statements were given other than what was on the note. Smith said it is unclear who wrote the note, but the situation is still under investigation.
“If any student or anyone has any knowledge of any weapon, whether it’s a handgun, a knife or whatever, on school property, to please let law enforcement know immediately,” he said.
Smith said a decision will be made whether or not legal action will be taken after consulting the matter with the district attorney, school administration and staff.
“There could be very much so,” he said regarding taking legal action. “These incidents cause a lot of disruption in the learning environment.”
Principle Larry Ferebee said during the transition of classes from first to the second period on Friday, School Resource Officer Dwayne Carter approached him with the note he said he found lodged between a stall door in the boy’s restroom.
When asked, Ferebee provided what was written on the note reading, “Two white students on ‘A’ hallway have guns.”
When asked for the demographics of the students at the school, Assistant Superintendent Mark Barfield said the high school has 85% African Americans, 10% white, 3% Hispanic, 0.34% American Indian and 2% multi.
An officer was immediately placed on hallway “A,” and all staff and students were secured as additional law enforcement was requested, he said.
“It was stated that two students on hallway ‘A’ had guns, however, there was no indication of intent, nor were any weapons found,” Ferebee said. “During my tenure, there has not been an introduction of any weapons on campus. However, in any case involving weapons, actual or perceived, the campus will immediately lock down to get all students and staff to safety and follow directions from law enforcement.”
Smith said people who call to notify law enforcement about incidents such as this situation could remain anonymous if they choose.
“We ask our students to come to school with the intent of learning,” he said. “Not the intent of disrupting a learning environment. Every child deserves an opportunity to learn in safety with minimum disruption throughout the day. We are still investigating it because we take this very seriously. You cannot afford to not look into it, and you have to do what we have to do to ensure that our little babies are safe as possible.”
Smith would like to thank all local law enforcement and first responders involved to assist in the situation, including Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, for sending a K-9 unit.
“It takes a lot of manpower to get this done,” he said.
Smith said for people to contact the sheriff’s office at 252-534-2611, Crime Stoppers at 252-534-1110, or any local law enforcement department to provide a tip on any similar situations.