Local News

Warrant: Teen Had Two Guns, Knife When He Held Two People Hostage

Posted April 25, 2006

— An East Chapel Hill High School student was packing more firepower than first thought when he allegedly took a teacher and student hostage on Monday, according to arrest warrants released Tuesday.

Chapel Hill police said William Barrett Foster held civics teacher Lisa Kukla and sophomore Chelsea Slegal hostage in a classroom Monday evening. According to the warrant, made public Tuesday, Foster carried a shotgun on campus, as well as an air rifle and hunting knife.

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School officials said they do not know why Foster took the student and teacher hostage and that it appeared to be a random act. Foster does not have a school disciplinary record on file. School officials said he was absent on Monday when attendance was taken during second period.

After more than an hour of holding Kukla and Slegal hostage, school officials said Kukla was able to talk him out of shooting them.

"She remained very calm throughout the situation and basically tried to talk down a very agitated student," said Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokeswoman Stephanie Knotts.

Kukla, a four-year veteran of the school system, also praised Slegal in a written statement Tuesday: "Chelsea was very brave and stayed calm. I am very proud of her actions. We tried to personalize things so that he would see us as people and not objects ... Today, I am thankful to be alive."

Foster, however, did fire two shots through a classroom window before fleeing the school on foot. School officials said he then went home, and told his mother what had happened. She then drove him to UNC Hospitals, where he remained on Tuesday afternoon.

He now faces one count of possessing and discharging a firearm on school property, two counts of assault and two counts of second-degree kidnapping. The warrants will be served on him when he is released from the hospital.

The school reopened Tuesday, as small groups of students met with teachers to disseminate school information and to participate in discussions. More than 20 counselors were also available to help students cope with the situation, and are expected to be on campus for the rest of the week.

Students who spoke to WRAL said they were shocked by Monday's incident and had thought something like that could not happen at East Chapel Hill High.

"But anything is possible," said student George Cornakov.

"He was really cool and nice and funny," said freshman Cam Stutts, who is in the same drama class as Foster. "It took me a while to make the connection, but I was just kind of shocked. I had no idea he would do something like that."

In a statement released to the news media Tuesday afternoon, Slegal said she feels blessed to be alive and wanted to thank her teacher for helping her be courageous throughout the ordeal.

Neither Kukla nor Slegal were at school Tuesday.

Students were also expected to be given a letter to take home to parents Tuesday afternoon that addressed Monday's incident.

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