A North Carolina high school student shot and killed a fellow student during a fight in a crowded school hallway Monday, officials said, prompting a lockdown and generating an atmosphere of chaos and fear as dozens of parents rushed to the school to make sure their children were safe.
The student accused of firing the fatal shot was arrested quickly as investigators secured the campus at Butler High School in Matthews, about 12 miles (19 kms) southeast of Charlotte, said Matthews Police Department Capt. Stason Tyrrell. Students remained inside with the school on lockdown for about two hours after the shooting.
The male student who was shot died at a hospital, Tyrrell said. He said the suspect, also male, was quickly taken into custody by a school resource officer as others rushed to the scene as backup. Investigators have the weapon used, but have not said what it is. Neither the suspect nor the victim’s names or ages were immediately released.
“We were able to review the surveillance video of the shooting, which was a fight between the two students,” Tyrrell said, describing it as an “isolated incident.”
Tyrrell said the shooting happened in a hallway as crowds of students arrived for the day. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said that many students witnessed the shooting, and counselors and psychologists were available.
“There were many kids in the hallway when this happened,” he said.
“We’re incredibly saddened by the fact that we had a loss of life on one of our campuses today. What makes it doubly difficult is that it was one of our students who was the shooter,” he said. While police have not confirmed what kind of gun was used, Wilcox said: “I don’t know how a young person gets a handgun in the state of North Carolina.” He said the system was reviewing its security procedures.
High school student Jorge Sanchez told WSOC-TV in Charlotte that the shooting happened as the result of an argument that escalated. He said the victim, a friend of his, was shot in the back as he walked away.
“I saw the gun and I had to run,” Sanchez said, adding that the gunshot sent students scurrying through the halls.
“This is really sad to see someone go that … has been your friend, for I don’t know how many years,” Sanchez said.
By late morning, school officials said that the lockdown was lifted and families could pick up students at the main entrance. Classes were proceeding for students who remained on campus. The diverse student body of about 2,000 at the school in North Carolina’s most populous county is about one-third white, one-third African-American and one-quarter Hispanic.
Before the lockdown was lifted, dozens of parents gathered outside of the school to await word on the students. Multiple parents told local television channels that they felt confused and unsure about where to meet with their children.
Television footage showed students streaming out, with many crying and hugging parents.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.