Nerves high as parents send kids back to school after shooting

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — As anxious students returned to campus Wednesday, many questions were still left unanswered.

Security measures were high, and parents’ nerves were even higher.

“Very anxious,” mother and PTA president, Darlene Powell said. “I’m more anxious today than I was yesterday.”

Powell said it was scary to send her child to school without knowing if they were safe. The student was close to the catwalk when shots rang out. When the doors automatically shut and locked, her student watched helplessly as classmates ran to the door begging to be let in.

“We’re coming at it from two very different angles,” Powell explained. “Me from the anxiety of my child being in a lockdown not knowing where the shooter is. And then them from just the pure trauma of people screaming, sobbing, running with blood.”

As both a parent and PTA president, Powell knows first hand how traumatic the incident was. She said it is frustrating not knowing what security measures will keep it from happening again.

She continued, “Well, people want to know. Are there going to be metal detectors at school. Is there going to be more police? Specifically are there going to be more police on the catwalk? Because the catwalk is largely an unguarded area.”

New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said all those options and more will be on the table at Friday’s joint commission and board of education meeting, regardless of cost.

“What’s the cost of a life? There’s no cost that’s too much to put measures in place to protect human life in my opinion,” Barfield said. “So we need to look at all options and find ways to meet the needs that are there.”

Though the shooter’s motives are still unclear, some believe it could have been an act of gang violence, while others believe the shooter was a victim of bullying.

“I don’t know if anybody else has dared to say this but… I think the young man was trying to protect himself. He went the wrong way about it, but I think he was trying to protect himself.”

Either way, students and parents like Powell say they worry about another shooting, and need reassurance it could never happen again.

“We don’t need to wait until Friday to know if our kids are safe,” said Powell.

The joint Commissioner and Board of Education meeting will happen Friday at 9:30 am.

We reached out to New Hanover County Schools for an interview or comment. They did not respond.

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