JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Many in the Jacksonville community are still wrapping their heads around what happened Thursday morning at Northside High School.
Three students are behind bars and are facing charges after another student died after being stabbed during a fight that broke out before the start of classes. Another student was stabbed but was expected to live while a teacher was hurt while jumping into the situation. The three students were taken into custody Thursday evening as the investigation continues into what led to the incident.
It’s been a heartbreaking 24 hours for the Jacksonville community. Thoughts and prayers poured in from all over the country for the community, school and the families impacted. There are a number of flowers and balloons at the Northside High School sign, and it continues to grow with support.
Parents believe something needs to change after the violent altercation. Many were experiencing their worst fears Thursday morning as they anxiously tried to find out what was happening as the school was under lockdown.
“It just really broke our heart that a mother or a father yesterday had to go home and they weren’t able to hug their child coming home,” said Mariah Hayes, an Onslow County parent.
Hayes said she was emotional as she stood in front of the Northside High sign. She has four small children who are slated to go to school in just a few years. For her, this hit too close to home.
“We all just had to take a moment of prayer,” Hayes said. “Because every parent sends their kid to school thinking that they’re going to come home and thinking that school is a safe place for them to be.”
Friday, the campus sat empty on what was supposed to be the fifth day of in-person learning. The bell rings but there are not any students heading to class. Friday was a remote-learning day with counseling available for those who needed it.
Classes return to in-person learning on Tuesday. There is no school Monday due to Labor Day. White Oak High School also was remote-learning only on Friday after the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office recognized a possible threat of violence at the school from social media posts.
April Fox was one of many parents who waited for hours to pick up their children at Northside. She said she feared the worst but was hoping for the best.
“I am relieved that she’s OK,” Fox said of her daughter. “But none of our kids should have to go through this right now.”
During a press conference on Thursday, Onslow County Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins addressed the issue of school safety. He said they’ve put a lot of resources into security measures at schools across the district in the past year. Jacksonville Public Safety Chief Michael Yaniero stressed in Thursday’s press conference how quickly a school resource officer responded to the incident, saying they jumped in and took the suspect into custody as others provided medical aid for those injured and a relay for help was issued to Jacksonville police and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
“Door locks, swipes, swapped in door locks and the cameras and the ring in. But there probably are some other things that we’re gonna have to look at,” Collins said.
Hayes said she’s considering homeschooling her children instead of sending them to Northside High School.
“Every parent thinks that schools should be a safe place where kids are going to school so they can learn,” Hayes said. “They’re not going to school to try to avoid fights or anything of the sort.”
Friday afternoon, Onslow County Schools issued a statement regarding the incident, saying, “we are focused on prioritizing the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Our thoughts and prayers for healing go out to the family of the young man who died, the other student who was injured, and the entire NHS school community.”