FORYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Students of Forsyth Technical Community College are back in class for the first time since a gunshot shook the campus on Thursday.
As students returned on Monday morning, Forsyth Tech brought in additional officers “to help ensure the safety of everyone on our campus,” the college said in a statement.
Shannon Howard James Pitts, an 18-year-old student of Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy student, was on campus when he reportedly shot himself in the hand using a ghost gun. Pitts was found near the second-floor restroom of the Strickland Center, which is on Silas Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem. He has been charged with two counts of possession of a weapon on educational property and one count of carrying a concealed gun. He received a $25,000 secured bond.
The gunshot sent the school into lockdown. An early TechAlert sent to the campus community falsely reported that they were seeking two “armed and dangerous” suspects. However, Winston-Salem Police Captain and District 3 Commander Shelley Lovejoy has since confirmed that this was not an “active shooter situation” and no suspects were at-large.
After the shooting, the campus closed the remainder of the week.
Thursday evening through the weekend, the school provided access to counselors to help any students, faculty and staff who would like to talk with someone. The college’s employee assistance program will also deploy counselors on Tuesday for group and one-on-one counseling sessions.
“We all went through something traumatic, and it is clear from notes that I have received as well as from social posts that some of us are continuing to work through the fear and anxiety our community experienced on Thursday,” said Forsyth Technical Community College President Janet Spriggs in a letter sent to the campus community on Sunday.
Sprigg’s full message is included below.
Dear Trailblazer Family,
I’m writing to let you know that classes will be resuming tomorrow and to check in on you. I hope everyone has been able to take time for some self-care and enjoy this beautiful spring day.
We’re fortunate and grateful that this incident came to a safe conclusion and did not result in a different outcome. Nevertheless, we all went through something traumatic, and it is clear from notes that I have received as well as from social posts that some of us are continuing to work through the fear and anxiety our community experienced on Thursday. I have also received and seen expressions of encouragement and hope that we will show each other grace as we continue to process, especially when we return to campus tomorrow.
I know many of you experienced an extended period of sheltering in place. We followed the lead of the unified incident command and did not end the shelter directive until we were told it was safe to do so. We needed to prioritize the safety of our students and staff.
I want to remind all of you that support resources are available on campus. We have a team of trained professionals who can provide support services to you. These services are free of charge and confidential, and we encourage anyone who needs help to reach out.
There are two ways to access on-campus support: by completing the form here or by calling (336) 734-7280. We can also provide referrals to outside mental health professionals, and the Local Mental Health Crisis Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-235-4673.
We understand your academic progress may have been disrupted, and your academic advisor or your instructors will be able to help you get the support you need to catch up on missed work and ensure that you don’t fall behind.
As always, we encourage our campus community to be observant and vigilant by immediately reporting any suspicious activity by calling the Forsyth Tech Police Department at (336) 734-7911 or utilizing any of our reporting options like the RAVE Guardian Safety App.
I will be on campus tomorrow, and I will be making extra efforts to check in personally with as many of you as possible.
We will move forward together . . . We are strong . . . We are resilient . . . We are a team who cares about each other . . . We are Trailblazers!