Local News

Two in custody after girl shot in neck at Cumberland high school

Posted October 24, 2011
Updated October 25, 2011

— Two teens were taken into custody Monday after a 15-year-old girl was seriously wounded in a shooting at Cape Fear High School near Fayetteville, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Cape Fear students Ta'Von McLaurin,18, and a 15-year-old suspect whose name was not released were being interviewed by investigators Monday night, but had not been formally charged.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Monday night he was confident that both students were involved and that they would definitely be charged once investigators finished interviewing them.

Catilyn Abercrombie was in stable condition following surgery at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center after being struck in the neck by a bullet while standing in the breezeway outside the school's cafeteria. Earlier in the afternoon, she was listed in serious condition, but was able to nod and shake her head in response to questions from investigators and her family.

A .22-caliber rifle was found inside the school building and a shell casing was found outside the breezeway doors, Butler said. Only one shot was fired.

Investigators do not believe that Abercrombie was targeted, but Butler said they did not know why the shooting happened.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler Two students arrested in school shooting that wounded teen

"The best we can ascertain, she was just a random victim," he said. "Whether it was intended for her or for someone else, we don't know exactly. But they did have a gun on campus, and that is something very frightening to us."

Witnesses told investigators they heard a "pop" and then saw Abercrombie collapse. No one saw the shooting, Butler said, but investigators believe the shot was fired from several yards away.

"It sounded like a loud pop," said Cape Fear senior Ryan Sullivan who was nearby when the teen was shot. "She was bleeding from her neck."

Sullivan said he had a computer class with Abercrombie and that she was a quiet girl and diligent student.

After students left the building Monday afternoon, investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from inside the school and identified the suspects.

Parents told WRAL News that they have had concerns about security at the school.

Genesis Sutton said his daughter was next to Abercrombie when she was shot.

"She heard a firecracker pop, the girl got hit in the neck and fell," he said.

Sutton said his daughter had told him about gang fights on school grounds and that threats had been made about a school shooting. He picked his daughter up from school early Monday and said he would keep her home for the rest of the week out of concern for her safety.

Shooting at Cape Fear High School Teen shot in neck at Cape Fear High School

Betty Jo Hammonds said her daughter tried to warn her about violence at the school.

"When she got ready to leave today, she said, 'Mom, I don't want to go to school today.' I asked her why? She said, 'Because something was going to happen at school today," Hammonds said.

School officials have not confirmed any reports of recent gang activity.

"All I can tell was the school was quiet today," said Superintendent Frank Till. "It was a normal day."

When WRAL News reporter Bryan Mims got to the school shortly after the shooting, he found a group of parents standing outside, desperate for information. Some mothers asked him, "Can you please tell me if my kids are all right?"

Cape Fear High was on code red lock down, meaning no one could enter or leave the school. Students were released shortly before 4 p.m.

Students at neighboring Mac Williams Middle School were also escorted off campus after temporarily being on lock down.

All after-school activities at both schools were canceled for Monday.

Butler said there would be at 10 extra deputies at the schools on Tuesday morning.


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  • Zwei Stein Oct 25, 2011

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery Catilyn. When you do get back to school, I hope you do well, go on to college, then law school...then I would like to see you as a prosecutor...you will know the plight of the victim. Best of luck.

  • gnewsome1 Oct 25, 2011

    Hang them both. It would reduce the recidivism rate and rid the streets of two people who do not deserve to breath them same air as decent human beings.

  • MDL33 Oct 25, 2011

    Folks, this is sad, and the number one reasons we home school our kids. You only get one chance to raise your kids. I don't know of one documented case of a home school shooting or, even a fight! I wish this young lady a speedy recovery and hope to see this 15 yr old (shooter) be convicted as an adult and sentenced to decades the 18 yr old helped him hide the crime and he should go away for even longer. Time to rid the streets of Cumberland county and Fayetteville, of the “want to be” gang members, and to severely punish the guilty, because it will not get any better anytime soon.

  • mitchells2 Oct 25, 2011

    My prayers are with the Caitlyn and her parents.Our children are supposed to be safe at school.Perhaps we should pray for our school systems too!!!!!

  • Zwei Stein Oct 25, 2011

    I went to school in Chicago. Going to school in fear was not uncommon. My first year in high school, the principal was thrown down two flights of stairs. Broke his back. No replacement until my third year. Tell your parents? No. What can they do and even if there was something they could do, your life would be so much worse after.

  • Zwei Stein Oct 25, 2011

    I am not familiar with the physical layout of the school. However, the article said the girl was standing in the breezeway outside the cafeteria. Is this breezeway accessible from the outer perimeter of the school grounds? Maybe the guilty party didn't need to go into the school with the rifle in order to shoot.

  • thepeopleschamp Oct 25, 2011

    "How do you get a Rifle (no matter of the caliber) in to a school? Even a .22 is about 3 ft. long. "Lucy, someones got some 'splaing to do!" TITAN4X4

    There are no check in security gates at a school. And a school building probably has a dozen different entrances. You could just walk in with it in your hand, or concealed down a pants leg, or under a jacket is my guess.

  • brandonlisk Oct 25, 2011

    When one(both) of them decided to bring the gun to school, at that point it becomes pre-meditated. I dont care the age or not. They already had chosen that day to point and shoot at someone. Regardless of if it hit the correct target or not. It is very obvious they had this notion of doing harm to someone, which tells me that it was planned out. They knew where to hide the gun and where to stand and when they should shoot without being seen. DO NOT TELL ME IT WAS NOT PREMEDITATED!! These guys deserve to both be in jail for 25 to life. Cause this little girl is going to spend the rest of her life trying to cope with the trauma they caused on her. First degree murder for both seems very justifiable in this case.

  • jerryspell2 Oct 25, 2011

    Sounds like bad parenting to me

  • Lurkerwolf Oct 25, 2011

    "What is the most distressing is that two separate families are quoted as being told by their kids that something violent was being discussed and yet it appears that neither of those families bothered to take the time to notify authorities. This event could have possibly been prevented! Slack Parents in-the-know and violent kids are a terrible mix."

    If the kids knew about it, then the school authorities would have known about it because most likely it was a widely known threat and was probably common gossip in the school. I blame the school officials for not listening to the rumors and taking action.