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‘It has to stop:’ CMS, law enforcement addressing community violence following recent shootings

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is enhancing security after recent community gun violence.

CMPD is also monitoring and evaluating social media threats following the shooting death of a three-year-old in Northwest Charlotte on Tuesday.

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Investigators say they believe the shooting Tuesday night that killed Asiah Figueroa is one in a string of shootings related to two homicides, and they may involve students.

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston addressed the community Thursday about the recent violence and rumors of more attacks circulating.

“While we know that parents are in communication with their child, please understand that information they receive from social and their friends may not always be accurate,” said Winston. “The point I want to make is please trust your school administrators who will make the best decisions to keep your child safe. They will communicate accurate information when they have it.”

Dee Rankin’s daughters are in ninth and eleventh grade at Hopewell High School. His other daughter works at Chambers High School.

“Both of my daughters they actually felt safe at school up until they saw the social media posts and when they saw the social media posts they became worried,” Rankin said.

Rankin says his daughter who works at Chambers High School has received information from her principal about increased security and reassurance about safety measures.

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston says they are aware of threats made involving schools but they have not received any evidence that the threats are credible.

“Please trust your school administrators who will make the best decisions to keep your child safe and they will communicate accurate information when they have that,” Winston said.

Early Thursday morning, Huntersville Police were on duty at North Mecklenburg and Hopewell High Schools. Multiple CMPD units were also on campus at Julius L. Chambers (formerly Vance) High School.

CMS also reinstated random safety and weapon screenings since the start of the school year. Classrooms, schools, and schools are being checked at random.

So far, CMS says Independence, West Charlotte, West Mecklenburg, and Hopewell High Schools have had random screenings. CMS says five weapons have been found on campus.

According to CMPD, since the start of the school year, CMPD has assisted in the seizure of five handguns, one pellet gun, and five cutting instruments. There have been four juveniles arrested while three other students are being processed through the Juvenile Diversion program.

“If they hadn’t been found who knows what could’ve happened on our school campuses. I think that’s a good thing these screenings are being successful, they’re finding these weapons, finding out who the individuals are and like I said keeping our kids safe,” Rankin said.

Police are pleading with parents to talk to their kids about disputes at school and checking their social media for any threats or issues.

“It’s going to take a community effort and we’ve talked about it with their friends if they hear or see anything don’t be afraid to tell someone,” Rankin said.

CMPD says it’s going to continue to work with school resource officers and provide officers and other resources for after-school events and games.

Speaking of after-school events, students and parents are using football for a few hours to escape from the world this fall.

It’s the perfect play as the community comes together.

“The kids are just, you know, part of the community,” said William Humphrey, whose son attends North Mecklenburg High School.

North Mecklenburg High School traveled to Phillip O. Berry for JV football action Thursday evening.

While the game took place, the conversation for these North Meck parents was still around the safety of their children in school.

“He said that things went really well today at North Meck,” Humphrey said. “He said the kids felt safe and there was a lot of security around and the adults really made the kids feel comfortable.”

“She said that about half the kids weren’t there, and she said that there was a large police presence, but that it felt like a normal day and it felt safe,” said Kate Murphy, whose daughter attends North Mecklenburg.

North Meck, Julius L. Chambers and Hopewell High schools were part of social media rumors and a threat of violence.

This was after CMPD said students from each school were suspects in a string of shootings from Sunday to late Tuesday night, which included the murder of 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa.

“We are aware of threats on social media, against our schools. We have no evidence that any of them are credible. Some of our schools have enhanced security today and will continue to, as long as it is necessary,” Winston said.

Parents say they just want to know more about the suspects.

“I don’t understand how it’s helpful to say, we think that they might be coming from these three schools, it caused a panic, and that’s not surprising. And I worry about kids showing up to school and being profiled or getting harmed,” Murphy said.

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