Supporters of accused school shooter says he was being bullied

Albemarle school shooting may have been the result of bullying

ALBEMARLE, NC (WBTV) - The teenager accused of shooting a student outside Albemarle High School Tuesday morning is still in custody, and supporters say Jalen Russell opened fire because he was being bullied.

"I'm not condoning him taking the gun to school. I'm very disappointed he did it that way," says family friend Khadijah McAuley. "But what was he supposed to do when it came down to somebody threatening him and sending him threatening text messages to his phone and stuff like that. What was he supposed to do?"

According to McAuley, the 15-year-old said, "He was bullied. He told his mother that these guys were planning on jumping him."

She says the 15-year-old was planning to talk to his school principal Tuesday morning. Police say he hit 16-year-old Bernard Miller with two rounds before walking to the principal's office to surrender. Russell's family believes he felt he was in danger and shot first.

"You've got people saying he should be tried as an adult or needs to be under the jail and stuff like that. No he doesn't. No he doesn't," McAuley says.

Miller is still recovering.

McAuley says, "I'm praying for the boy in the hospital and I'm also praying for Jalen because both families are being victimized at this point. Both of them are victims."

McAuley describes Russell as good kid. "I know him. He plays with babies. He's 15-years-old and he plays with a three-year-old. A kid that plays with a three-year-old is not a kid with this type of mentality."

She says if school officials at Albemarle High School had taken action when the first incident happened, Tuesday's shooting could have been avoided.

"If they would have handled that altercation then, none of us would be where we are today," McAuley says. "This young man wouldn't be laying in the hospital. His family wouldn't be in tragedy. Our family wouldn't be in tragedy."

Tuesday wasn't the first time Jalen Russell got in trouble for violence in school.

Last year at West Montgomery High School, he another student got into an altercation. McAuley says it was another case of bullying that school officials ignored.

"Nobody handled it. So in the locker room when this big boy jumped him he defended himself."

Russell's family says the bullying got out of control, and that school officials at both schools didn't respond.

"I'm not going to condone the gun. I'm not going to condone the stabbing last year but when is somebody going to step up and say enough is enough with the bullying," McAuley says. "The school system is failing these kids because if they deal with the situation when something first happened, none of this will be going on today."

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