Local News

Chapel Hill Teen Accused Of Holding Two Hostage May Have Been Bullied

Posted April 26, 2006

— Two days after a Chapel Hill high school student allegedly held a classmate and teacher hostage, school officials and police met to work on a new plan to improve security.

Chapel Hill police say William Foster, 17, a junior at East Chapel Hill High School, went onto the campus Monday and held civics teacher Lisa Kukla and sophomore Chelsea Slegal hostage for about an hour before letting them go.

School officials said Kukla and Slegal were able to talk to Foster and persuade him not to shoot them. He did, however, fire two shots before leaving the school.

"It's one of those things that serves as a reminder to all of us, that's it's a perpetual process of readiness," said Stephanie Knott, a spokeswoman for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system.

Suggestions to heighten safety included looking at door access, lighting and increasing security personnel. But experts on school safety say securing the environment is only part of the process.

"The main thing is to really look at (whether) there are warning signs that this behavior may be taking place," said Billy Lassiter, with the North Carolina Center for the Prevention of School Violence.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro school records show that Foster, who has no school disciplinary record on file, attended The Ravenscroft School in Raleigh and then transferred to East Chapel Hill High School. He also attended the Woods Charter School in Chatham County his sophomore year, and then returned to East for his junior year.

Sources tell WRAL he may have left public school because he was bullied.

"In 75 percent of the cases, the rationale behind the behavior of school shooters was that they were being bullied at school, so that could be one of the reasons," Lassiter said.

School officials have said they do not know why Foster allegedly took the student and teacher hostage and that it appeared to them that it was a random act.

Authorities said Foster's parents took him to UNC Hospitals Monday night after he told them what he had done. His parents then called police to tell them where he was.

Residents in the neighborhood of $500,000 homes where Foster lives say the family has been very involved in the community and never caused any problems. They say they are saddened by what has happened. Classmates at East Chapel Hill High School told WRAL on Tuesday that they were surprised by the incident.

"He was really cool and nice and funny," said freshman Cam Stutts, who is in Foster's drama class. "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."

Foster 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.

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