SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Two students have been charged and suspended from school after an incident at West Rowan High School (WRHS).
According to the Rowan Sheriff's report, one student brought a handgun to school and was carrying in his book bag. That student told another student that he had the gun. Another student overheard the conversation and later took the book bag and the gun, which officials say was a Taurus Model 6605, .357 revolver.
"We immediately involved law enforcement, which would involve our resource officer to respond to the situation," said WRHS Principal Dr. Jamie Durant. "At that point, the investigation began."
According to the report, on Wednesday, a resource officer was alerted that a student, Noah Lance, had reported to the principal that he had brought a handgun to school that day in his backpack and that the gun had been stolen while he was in his 4th block.
Lance's mother told the officer that Noah had accidentally left the gun in his backpack from the prior afternoon when he had been at his grandparents' home shooting the gun. The mother said that once Noah realized the gun was in the backpack, he was scared to tell a staff member at the school.
Lance said that he told two friends about the gun and no one else, but he thought a third person may have overheard the conversation.
Deputies say Lance confronted fellow student Mekhi Jermon Robinson about the gun. Robinson would not respond to Noah, officials said, and immediately asked the teacher if he could go to another classroom to get his charger. He then left the room and did not return to the class.
Deputies and school personnel reviewed security footage and were able to determine that Robinson left the high school campus after his encounter with Lance.
Law enforcement officials then went Robinson's home and searched his vehicle, but didn't find the gun. They said Robinson was "generally uncooperative with the officers," according to the report.
Detective Travis Allen returned to the school at 8 a.m. Thursday and conducted interviews with every student that was in the 4th block with Lance.
It was determined that once Lance realized the gun was stolen, he became worried that the gun may still be on the school campus and told his shop teacher about having the gun and about it now being stolen.
Detective Allen interviewed Lance again and then had his mother bring him to the Magistrate's Office. He was charged with possession of a firearm on a school campus, which is a felony. He was given a written promise and released on a Custody Release to his mother.
Once the charging of Noah Lance was completed, Detective Allen returned to Robinson's home and interviewed him again.
According to the report, after a lengthy interview Robinson admitted to taking the handgun out of the backpack. He told Detective Allen that he could have the weapon back by 6 p.m., so the detective agreed to return then for the weapon.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Detective Allen received a phone call from Robinson's mother who said that they were at a location off Hwy 801, where Mekhi said he had thrown the handgun down a steep bank.
At least four deputies and a K-9 conducted an exhaustive search of the area, but did not locate the handgun. Detective Allen went back to Robinson's house and asked for his cell phone. Robinson's father refused to give the phone to the detective or allow Mekhi to talk with him any further.
At that time, Detective Allen obtained a search warrant for the residence. The cell phone was seized, but the handgun was not found.
Robinson was arrested for possession of a firearm on a school campus and larceny of a firearm, which are both felonies. He was placed in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $1,000 secured bond.
The search for the stolen handgun continues. Anyone with information about this case should contact Detective Travis Allen at 704-216-8715, or Lt. Chad Moose at 704-216-8687.
"First thing we always do is make sure the environment is safe," Dr. Durant added. "We want to make sure the students on campus and the staff are in a safe place. Once that's under control we make our proper notifications, and at that point we would also reach pout to our parents."