CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Eighteen-year-old murder suspect Darvon Fletcher was in a Gaston County courthouse Wednesday. He was arrested and charged in the shooting death of 14-year-old Taylor Smith.
The judge held Fletcher's bond and appointed him a public defender. While Fletcher goes through the judicial system, counselors at Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) have been busy.
Fletcher is a student at West Mecklenburg High School. Police picked him up at the school after he was told to come to the office while in class.
Students at West Mecklenburg are no strangers to tragic news. In March, West Mecklenburg students had to deal with more police presence when a student was found shot and killed behind an elementary school. In February, an East Mecklenburg High School student was also found shot and killed. Counselors have come to the rescue.
"In all those schools we have provided grief counselors to engage in that crisis work immediately, to help them process and cope," CMS Crisis Response Specialist Lisa Newman said. "We've had teachers given lessons to provide support."
Newman said one in four CMS students will experience a loss of someone they care about. Some students are experiencing that grief sooner rather than later.
"We want them to know that we are here for them and to help," Newman said. "And we are here to listen when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed."
The specialist is concerned that with more than 147,000 students in CMS, somebody will be neglected.
"We have many students who don't get the support that they need as well as we would like because we don't have the resources available internally," Newman said.
CMS is now relying on the community and parents to help fill the void.
"Allow your child to speak when they are ready," Newman said, "but let them know that you are here and ready to listen."
While CMS continues to offer support for students, investigators are looking for a second murder suspect in connection to the Smith case - Eric Combs. They believe he may be in the Ohio area driving a white and gray van.
If you have any information that could help call police.